Organic Certification Process

Clemson University is a USDA approved Accredited Certifying Agent. This accreditation allows Clemson 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.  Clemson's 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

Step Two: Initial Review

Once Clemson's organic certification program receives your 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 Clemson inspectors have signed a confidentiality agreement. The Inspector’s Report will then be submitted to Clemson University for assessment.

Step Four: Final Review and Decision

Clemson University's 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. Clemson 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: Updating Your Certification

Certified operations must submit the appropriate Organic System Plan Updates and certification fees each year and undergo annual inspections. Organic operators must notify Clemson University 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: January 2015