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General OTCO Certification FAQ's

Certification-related frequently asked questions

Do I have to be an Oregon resident to be OTCO certified?Yellow Flower Small

No. Over the years, Oregon Tilth has made its certification process available to people in many states and countries.

Is an OTCO organic certification specific to one industry, aspect of agriculture, or product?

No. At Oregon Tilth, we recognize the increasing reach and impact of organic business. We strive to provide for that growth by offering certification services that include, but are not limited to:

  • Commercial producers of organic crops and livestock

  • Processors of organic foods, feed, and fiber

  • Handlers of organic products such as packers, brokers,distributors, and wholesalers

  • Marketers of processed or co-packed organic products

  • Restaurants and retailers specializing in organic fare

What is Oregon Tilth’s involvement with the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Standard?

Oregon Tilth is one of the USDA NOP accredited certifiers. We certify to the standard of the USDA, following their guidelines as our only standard for agricultural products in the USA. The USDA does not actually have any direct interaction with you, the producer, so as an accredited certifier, we authorize people to use the USDA label after they have undergone the certification process.

NOP seal (thumbnail)Why should I certify USDA Organic?

There are many reasons why you should consider certifying your handling, processing or distribution channel USDA Organic. The USDA National Organic Standard seal assures consumers that your procedures are authentically organic and meet the stringent standards set forth by the USDA. To this end, it makes the product that comes from your operation more marketable to the consumer or to companies requesting your produce product. Also, the measures you take to implement organic practices and support organic production should be recognized, especially as our society becomes increasingly aware of the value of buying organic.

How long will it take to get my operation certified?

The certification process for new applicants can take 8–12 weeks from the date OTCO receives the certification application and payment. There are several variables that can affect this. Factors that can contribute to time delays include: company location, completeness of organic plan, and the ability to demonstrate compliance at the time of inspection.

What is the cost of certification?

  • Crop, Livestock, and Farm Certification costs start at $399 for a first year certification in Oregon. This price drops down to $299 as a re-certifying farm. The certification fee is determined by your actual gross sales in U.S. dollars, following a sliding scale. Complete information is provided in the OTCO Fee Schedule (download here), or by request from the OTCO office.

  • Processors, Co-Packers, Handlers and Marketers certification costs are determined by the product you process, handle or market, who owns the product and how the product is labeled. Depending on your category of production and your gross sales, the fees for certification range from 0.0025% to 0.5% of net gross sales, plus inspection expense. Complete information is provided in the OTCO Fee Schedule (download here), or by request from the OTCO office.

How do I file a complaint with the National Organic Program (NOP)?

The easiest way to file a complaint with the NOP is via an online form, at:
http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Compliance/FileComplaint.html

Alternatively, you can contact the NOP at:
Telephone:  (202) 720-8311
Fax: (202) 205-5772 or (559) 487-5167
Email: NOPcompliance@usda.gov

When does my certificate expire?

Your organic certificate never expires, and certificates are valid until surrendered by the organic operation or until suspended or revoked by OTCO, the State organic program’s governing official, or the USDA.  However, to maintain and continue certification, a certified operation must annually pay the certification fees and submit certification renewal information on the organic production and/or handling system plan.

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