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Organic Services

Organic Certification

MCIA is a USDA National Organic Program-accredited certification agency. MCIA Organic Services primarily serves organic producers, handlers, and processors located in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest.

MCIA’s certification process is efficient, user-friendly, and competitively priced. Our customer-focused staff guides clients through every step of the organic certification process, providing support and resources along the way.

The decision to enter the organic marketplace demonstrates a commitment to organic integrity. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) is the standard for organic certification in the United States. Certification allows organic operations to display the NOP certified organic seal on their qualified products. The USDA organic seal on organic products improves consumer confidence, market creditability, product marketability, and global distribution.

Organic trade and equivalency agreements have made NOP organic certification internationally recognized as certified organic in Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Switzerland, and Taiwan. MCIA can help clients who are entering foreign markets understand how to extend their NOP organic certification internationally.

MCIA certifies organic crops producers. Included in this scope are producers of field crops, vegetables, fruit, seed, and nursery stock and seedlings, for example.

Requirements

All agricultural crops produced to be certified and labeled organic must comply with the standards set out in the National Organic Program (NOP). Whatever the crop type, Certified Organic crops must be produced on land that meets the requirements of the NOP, including but not limited to:

  • No prohibited substance applied to it for a period of 36 months immediately preceding harvest
  • Must use organic seed and planting stock when commercially available
  • No genetically modified seed is allowed
  • Only approved seed treatments are permitted

How to Become Certified

The certification process consists of several steps through which MCIA verifies that the NOP regulations are being followed.

The steps for organic crop certification include:

  1. Contact MCIA. MCIA will help you assemble the information you need to begin the certification process. Our Organic Certification Handbook can be downloaded or we will mail a copy to you. This describes the whole process in greater detail. When you are ready call or email MCIA so we can get started.
  2. Develop your Organic System Plan (OSP). The MCIA Organic System Plan Producer will guide you through the questions required to create your OSP. The OSP should describe your plan for managing fertility, weed, disease and insect control, and indicate what crop rotation you will be using. It should list your equipment and storage and describe your land. You will have to provide a list of the seeds and planting stock you intend to use and provide a list of inputs you intend to use.
  3. Submit your OSP, other required application forms, and applicable fees to MCIA. MCIA will review the application to assess the eligibility of your land and Organic System Plan for certification. MCIA may contact you for additional information.
  4. MCIA will arrange for an inspector to schedule an on-site inspection with you. The inspector will write up an inspection report and send it to MCIA.
  5. MCIA will review the inspection report to ensure compliance with the NOP standards. There may be additional questions to you at this point.
  6. After satisfying any final issues, MCIA will issue a contract. The organic certificate will be issued after receipt of the signed contract and payment of any remaining fees.

FAQ

What is organic certification?

Certification is the process whereby an operation is approved by an Accredited Certifying Agent (ACA) as being in compliance with the USDA National Organic Program regulations and is then authorized to sell, label, or represent products as being “Certified Organic.”

Where does MCIA get its authority?

MCIA is an ACA authorized by the USDA National Organic Program. MCIA is authorized to provide organic certification services to producers, handlers and processors, and wild crop harvesters.

Who uses MCIA organic certification services?

Operations certified by MCIA include food processors, distributors, retailers, agricultural handling facilities, wild crop harvesters, livestock producers, and field crop, vegetable, and fruit producers.

Why use MCIA as your organic certifier?

MCIA provides its clients with a user-friendly, efficient, cost-effective certification process. MCIA’s service-oriented staff is available to provide prompt, professional assistance to help our clients understand organic program requirements and guide them through the certification process.

How do you complete organic certification?

The organic certification process requires an application, inspection, and review to determine if an operation is in compliance with the National Organic Program regulations. Upon completion of the process the operation is then authorized to sell, label, or represent products as being “Certified Organic.” All operations must apply and be inspected annually.

For more information about this program, please contact us at 855-213-4461 or mncia@mncia.org or visit the Client Resources page.

MCIA certifies organic livestock producers. Included in this scope are producers of dairy, beef, poultry, pork, and egg products, for example.

Requirements

All livestock products that are sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be produced in compliance with National Organic Program (NOP) standards.

Organic livestock includes cattle, sheep, goats, swine, and poultry. Fish and other aquatic animals cannot be certified organic.

Organic livestock producers are required to develop and follow an Organic System Plan that complies with NOP requirements for:

  • Animal origin—animals for organic slaughter must be under continuous organic management
  • Feed—only organic feed and approved supplements
  • Living conditions—must accommodate the natural behavior of animals including access to outdoors
  • Health care—must be in compliance with NOP standards

Because organic livestock must have access to pasture, livestock operators often manage both animals and pasture or crop land holding two different scopes of organic certification (livestock and crop producer). On-farm processing may also require organic certification as a handler.

How to Become Certified

The certification process consists of several steps through which MCIA verifies that the NOP regulations are being followed.

The steps for organic livestock certification include:

  1. Contact MCIA. MCIA will help you assemble the information you need to begin the certification process. Our Organic Certification Handbook can be downloaded or we will mail a copy to you. This describes the whole process in greater detail. When you are ready call or email MCIA so we can get started.
  2. Develop your Organic System Plan (OSP). The various Livestock Organic System Plans will guide you through the questions required to create your OSP. The OSP should describe your plan for sourcing animals and managing their health. It should describe the living conditions you intend to provide and the feed products and other inputs that you intend to use. The OSP should list your equipment and storage and describe your land. If you have ruminant animals, you must comply with the Pasture Rule requirements and the OSP should describe your plan to manage your pasture and provide pasture grazing to your animals.
  3. Submit your OSP, other required application forms, and applicable fees to MCIA. MCIA will review the application to assess the eligibility of your land and Organic System Plan for certification. MCIA may contact you for additional information.
  4. MCIA will arrange for an inspector to schedule an on-site inspection with you. The inspector will write up an inspection report and send it to MCIA.
  5. MCIA will review the inspection report to ensure compliance with the NOP standards. There may be additional questions to you at this point.
  6. After satisfying any final issues, MCIA will issue a contract. The organic certificate will be issued after receipt of the signed contract and payment of any remaining fees.

FAQ

What is organic certification?

Certification is the process whereby an operation is approved by an Accredited Certifying Agent (ACA) as being in compliance with the USDA National Organic Program regulations and is then authorized to sell, label, or represent products as being “Certified Organic.”

Where does MCIA get its authority?

MCIA is an ACA authorized by the USDA National Organic Program. MCIA is authorized to provide organic certification services to producers, handlers and processors, and wild crop harvesters.

Who uses MCIA organic certification services?

Operations certified by MCIA include food processors, distributors, retailers, agricultural handling facilities, wild crop harvesters, livestock producers, and field crop, vegetable, and fruit producers.

Why use MCIA as your organic certifier?

MCIA provides its clients with a user-friendly, efficient, cost-effective certification process. MCIA’s service-oriented staff is available to provide prompt, professional assistance to help our clients understand organic program requirements and guide them through the certification process.

How do you complete organic certification?

The organic certification process requires an application, inspection, and review to determine if an operation is in compliance with the National Organic Program regulations. Upon completion of the process the operation is then authorized to sell, label, or represent products as being “Certified Organic.” All operations must apply and be inspected annually.

For more information about this program, please contact us at 855-213-4461 or mncia@mncia.org or visit the Client Resources page.

MCIA certifies organic processors and handlers. Included in this scope are operations such as food processing facilities, food retailers, seed conditioning facilities, grain handling facilities, and contract packers.

Requirements

Most organic products pass through the hands of at least one middleman handler. Only certified organic handlers that meet organic standards under the USDA National Organic Program may handle organic products.

Handling includes many types of activities including:

  • Roasting coffee
  • Mixing livestock feed
  • Grinding whole corn into cornmeal
  • Fermenting milk to make yogurt
  • Fermenting grapes to make wine
  • Pressing fresh apples to make cider
  • Seed conditioning
  • Grain handling and storage
  • Packaging and repackaging
  • Labeling and relabeling

Processors and handlers must develop an Organic System Plan that describes their manufacturing or handling process, the products they make or handle, their sanitation and pest management programs, their packaging and labeling plans, and the type of documentation that they will maintain.

Facilities must be able to prevent commingling of organic and nonorganic products and ingredients and be able to prevent contact of organically produced products or ingredients with prohibited substances.

How to Become Certified

The certification process consists of several steps through which MCIA verifies that the NOP regulations are being followed.

The steps for organic handling/processing certification include:

  1. Contact MCIA. MCIA will help you assemble the information you need to begin the certification process. Our Organic Certification Handbook can be downloaded or we will mail a copy to you. This describes the whole process in greater detail. When you are ready call or email MCIA so we can get started.
  2. Develop your Organic System Plan (OSP). The MCIA Organic System Plan Handler will guide you through the questions required to create your OSP. The OSP describes your products or services and the equipment and processes that you will use. For products with more than one ingredient, you will need to submit a Multi Ingredient Product Profile which lists ingredients, additives and processing aids. Labels will also need to be submitted for review.
  3. Submit your OSP, other required application forms, and applicable fees to MCIA. MCIA will review the application to assess the eligibility of your product and Organic System Plan for certification. MCIA may contact you for additional information.
  4. MCIA will arrange for an inspector to schedule an on-site inspection with you. The inspector will write up an inspection report and send it to MCIA.
  5. MCIA will review the inspection report to ensure compliance with the NOP standards. There may be additional questions to you at this point.
  6. After satisfying any final issues, MCIA will issue a contract. The organic certificate will be issued after receipt of the signed contract and payment of any remaining fees.

FAQ

What is organic certification?

Certification is the process whereby an operation is approved by an Accredited Certifying Agent (ACA) as being in compliance with the USDA National Organic Program regulations and is then authorized to sell, label, or represent products as being “Certified Organic.”

Where does MCIA get its authority?

MCIA is an ACA authorized by the USDA National Organic Program. MCIA is authorized to provide organic certification services to producers, handlers and processors, and wild crop harvesters.

Who uses MCIA organic certification services?

Operations certified by MCIA include food processors, distributors, retailers, agricultural handling facilities, wild crop harvesters, livestock producers, and field crop, vegetable, and fruit producers.

Why use MCIA as your organic certifier?

MCIA provides its clients with a user-friendly, efficient, cost-effective certification process. MCIA’s service-oriented staff is available to provide prompt, professional assistance to help our clients understand organic program requirements and guide them through the certification process.

How do you complete organic certification?

The organic certification process requires an application, inspection, and review to determine if an operation is in compliance with the National Organic Program regulations. Upon completion of the process the operation is then authorized to sell, label, or represent products as being “Certified Organic.” All operations must apply and be inspected annually.

For more information about this program, please contact us at 855-213-4461 or mncia@mncia.org or visit the Client Resources page.

MCIA certifies organic wild crop collectors. Included in this scope are collectors of maple syrup and wild fruits, nuts, and other plants.

Requirements

A wild crop is a plant or portion of a plant that is collected or harvested from a site that is not maintained under cultivation or other agricultural management. This means that in order for a crop to be considered wild it cannot be watered, fed, or otherwise managed.

In order to certify a wild crop as organic it must be harvested in a manner that will not be destructive to the environment and will sustain the growth and production of the wild crop.

Examples of wild-harvested crops include maple sap, wild rice, dogwood or pussy willow branches, wild grape leaves and fruit, and wild mushrooms.

Occasionally wild crop harvesters must also hold an Organic Handler Certification. For example, producers who harvest and process maple sap into syrup or wild grapes harvesters who process the grapes into juices or jellies must have both Wild Crop and Handler certificates.

How to Become Certified

The certification process consists of several steps through which MCIA verifies that the NOP regulations are being followed.

The steps for organic wild crop certification include:

  1. Contact MCIA: MCIA will help you assemble the information you need to begin the certification process. Our Organic Certification Handbook can be downloaded or we will mail a copy to you. This describes the whole process in greater detail. When you are ready call or email MCIA so we can get started.
  2. Develop your Organic System Plan (OSP): The Organic System Plan Wild Crop will guide you through the questions required to create your OSP. The OSP describes your plan for managing a sustainable harvest of the wild crops. It will list your equipment and storage and describe the land where the harvest will take place.
  3. Submit your OSP, other required application forms, and applicable fees to MCIA: MCIA will review the application to assess the eligibility of your land and Organic System Plan for certification. MCIA may contact you for additional information.
  4. Inspection: MCIA will arrange for an inspector to schedule an on-site inspection with you. The inspector will write up an inspection report and send it to MCIA.
  5. Evaluation: MCIA will review the inspection report to ensure compliance with the NOP standards. There may be additional questions to you at this point.
  6. Certification: After satisfying any final issues, MCIA will issue a contract. The organic certificate will be issued after receipt of the signed contract and payment of any remaining fees.

FAQ

What is organic certification?

Certification is the process whereby an operation is approved by an Accredited Certifying Agent (ACA) as being in compliance with the USDA National Organic Program regulations and is then authorized to sell, label, or represent products as being “Certified Organic.”

Where does MCIA get its authority?

MCIA is an ACA authorized by the USDA National Organic Program. MCIA is authorized to provide organic certification services to producers, handlers and processors, and wild crop harvesters.

Who uses MCIA organic certification services?

Operations certified by MCIA include food processors, distributors, retailers, agricultural handling facilities, wild crop harvesters, livestock producers, and field crop, vegetable, and fruit producers.

Why use MCIA as your organic certifier?

MCIA provides its clients with a user-friendly, efficient, cost-effective certification process. MCIA’s service-oriented staff is available to provide prompt, professional assistance to help our clients understand organic program requirements and guide them through the certification process.

How do you complete organic certification?

The organic certification process requires an application, inspection, and review to determine if an operation is in compliance with the National Organic Program regulations. Upon completion of the process the operation is then authorized to sell, label, or represent products as being “Certified Organic.” All operations must apply and be inspected annually.

For more information about this program, please contact us at 855-213-4461 or mncia@mncia.org or visit the Client Resources page.