Ask a Specialist Answer
Is it possible to still get my farm certified for the first time in October?
Whether or not you can get certified now depends on the crop or livestock products you want to sell as organic. All certification agencies are required to see at least some of the requested crops growing in the field or greenhouse/hoophouse. If the crops you wish to sell as organic are already harvested and in storage, there is no way to get retroactive certification. If, however, your corn is still in the field, or if you are actively growing crops in a greenhouse or hoophouse, then it may still be possible to certify.
Dairy farmers who want to ship organic milk and apply for first time organic certification during the winter months may need to have two inspections in one year. The first would be to review livestock activities and growing systems during the winter, and the second to actually view crops and pasture during the growing season in the summer.
Meat producers might need to purchase organic forages and grains this coming winter or spring in order to produce or sell organic animals next year. Brood animals must consume certified organic feed while they are in the last third of gestation in order for the offspring to be sold as organic meat animals. There cannot be retroactive organic certification for a previous year’s hay or grains, since they were not physically inspected while they were growing.
The ability to get certified this year also depends upon the certification agency’s workload and the inspector schedule. Most certification agencies can handle a limited number of “rush” applications. However, if the timeline is too short, or if the agency is already at capacity, it may be too late. In general, even a rush application will take a month to process from the time you submit your application to the date you receive your organic certificate. The initial review, the inspection and the final review are all required, and while they can be prioritized, they still take time and effort to be done correctly. A simple operation with only a few crops stands a better chance of getting a late season rush done than does a complicated farm with several crops, livestock and crops, or farms with processing facilities.
Ultimately, only the certification agency can tell you if you can obtain a late season organic certificate. Call your potential certification agencies immediately, explain your situation, and find out what your options might be.
Posted: Oct 2016
Answer By: Joe Pedretti