Organic Certification Process
Clemson University's Department of Plant Industry is a USDA approved Accredited Certifying Agent. This accreditation allows DPI (Department of Plant Industry) to certify organic operations in the three major categories of certification: crops, livestock and processing. The Organic Certification Process includes five steps to ensure organic integrity:
Step One: Application
Complete and submit the appropriate Organic System Plan (OSP) and initial application fees. This DPI certification application guides you through the required National Organic Program Standards and helps you document your organic operation. Be sure to include all supplementary forms required for your operation as described in the OSP. You can find all organic certification forms and documents including the fee schedule and NOP Standards on our website at http://www.clemson.edu/organic.
Step Two: Initial Review
Once DPI receives your organic application packet, we will send you a receipt for the application fees as well as a quote for the inspection fee. At this time, your application will be reviewed to assess your compliance with the NOP Standards. If the reviewer finds your OSP complete and compliant, a trained organic inspector will be assigned to your operation and contact you to arrange for an inspection time. The reviewer may also contact you with some areas of concern that will be addressed before or during the inspection.
Step Three: On-site Inspection
A trained inspector will meet with you at an arranged time to verify the descriptions stated in your OSP. Be sure to have all paperwork readily available for observation. For your protection, all DPI inspectors have signed a confidentiality agreement. The Inspector’s Report will then be submitted to DPI for assessment.
Step Four: Final Review and Decision
DPI organic certification staff will now review your entire application, including the OSP, supplementary forms and Inspector’s Report. Your certification status will be decided by the completeness of your application and adherence to the Standards required by the National Organic Program. DPI may deliver any of the following decisions:
Organic Certification – The operation is now “certified organic” and can market products using approved labels and organic logos.
Organic Certification with Noted Areas of Concern – The operation is now “certified organic” and can market products using approved labels and organic logos, but must address concerns within the provided timeframe.
Notice of Noncompliance – Organic certification may be withheld until the applicant corrects areas of noncompliance.
Notice of Noncompliance and Proposed Suspension – A previously certified operation has not complied with NOP regulations and has failed to meet recertification requirements. The applicant may appeal this decision within 30 days or reapply at a later date.
Denial of Certification – The applicant has not complied with NOP regulations and major areas of noncompliance cannot be readily resolved. The applicant may appeal this decision within 30 days or reapply at a later date.
Following a decision, you will receive complete documentation of the review process including the Inspector’s Report.
Step Five: Renewal and Recertification
Certification is an annual process. Certified operations must submit the appropriate Organic System Plan Updates and certification fees each year and undergo annual inspections. Organic operators must notify DPI of any changes made to OSPs throughout the year.
Expect the certification process to take up to 90 days. If you have any questions or comments, please contact our friendly staff.
Last updated: Feb. 2013