Before you apply
Before getting started, here a few considerations to keep in mind:
Evaluate when your operation wants to start selling products as organic.
The certification process takes an average of 8-12 weeks — sometimes longer depending on the volume of applicants in a given year — from the time an application is received until the operation is certified. It’s important to prepare and time your application submission based on your needs. Please be sure to review our application deadlines for updates on our administrative capacity to receive and process applications.
Determine whether certification is mandatory, optional, or unavailable for your operation.
In some instances, organic certification is not mandated by the USDA National Organic Program. However, these instances exemptions are rare and voluntary participation improves the integrity and transparency for organic product supply chains from farm to finish.
Decide which certification service(s) make sense for your operation.
OTCO offers a wide range of sustainability-focused certification services that provide opportunities for producers in different industries as well as at different stages of transition.
Understand which category — or scope — of certification your operation falls under.
In some instances, an operation may require multiple certification scopes in order to grow and process organic crops.
Familiarize yourself with the certification standards.
For example, review the standards for the USDA National Organic Program, NSF/ANSI 305 for personal care products, GOTS for fibers and textiles, and others — prior to application.
Review the OTCO procedures manual for a deep dive into our process and policies.
All new applicants must have their operation inspected prior to harvesting organic crops or running organic products. We recommend submitting your application at least six (6) weeks before you intend to harvest or run organic products. Always be sure to review our application deadlines for updates on our administrative capacity to receive and process applications and how this may impact your certification timing needs.
Review the OTCO Fee Schedule to understand costs.
Be prepared to pay the certification fees at the time of application submission to ensure proper handling of your file.