Apply for Certification


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Program Manager: Brenda Book
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Does my business need organic certification?

All crops or products that are sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be certified unless the operation is exempt or excluded from certification

Examples of exempt and excluded operations include: 

  • Operations that gross less than $5,000 annually from organic products.
  • Retail food establishments.
  • Handlers that produce products with less than 70% organic ingredients.
  • Handlers that produce products with organic claims limited to the information panel, or ingredient list only.

The USDA National Organic Program has developed a factsheet to help businesses determine if they need to be certified.


How much does organic certification cost?

The WSDA Organic Program fee schedule is outlined in the application packets and in Washington Administrative Code (WAC 16-157). WSDA Organic Certification fees consist of three core fees: the new application fee, the renewal fee, and the inspection fee. Additional fees are charged for services outside the standard certification process.

New application fee

The new application fee for all new businesses is $375. This fee is due with your new application.

Inspection fee

Each business must be inspected annually. The inspection fee is invoiced following the review of the inspection report and not due with a new or renewal application. The cost of an inspection is dependent on the types of organic activities being evaluated:
  • Crop production: $375
  • Livestock production: $250
  • Wild harvesting crops: $100
  • Handling or processing: $500
If more than one activity is being evaluated, more than one inspection fee will be assessed. For example, an inspection of an organic dairy farm typically includes an evaluation of both pastures (crops) and cattle (livestock) and will be billed a total of $625 for an annual inspection.

Renewal fee

Each year by March 1, all organic businesses must renew their certification and submit an annual renewal fee. The renewal fee is based on the gross annual income received from organic activities in the previous year. A table showing the renewal fee for each income level is included in the new application fee form (PDF 32 KB). This fee is assessed for operations that are renewing their certification and is not charged to new applicants.

Additional fees

Additional services are available for businesses that would like to expand or add to their certification, such as a request to have new land or new products certified. A full overview of these services and fees, can be found in WAC Chapter 16-157

Refund Policy

Requests for refunds may be made at any time during the certification process; however, refunds will only be issued in accordance with the program policy [PDF 72 KB].


How do I get my business certified?

There are 5 steps to certification.

Adopt organic practices and submit your application

Once organic practices have been adopted, a new application, including an organic system plan, is completed by your business and submitted to WSDA Organic Program.  The organic system plan details your practices and your plan to comply with the organic regulations when producing and handling organic crops, livestock, or products. The organic system plan is a living document, if your practices need to change from what you originally submit you can easily update individual section of your plan as your business grows.  The entire new application packet is available online; if you prefer a hardcopy simply contact our office and we will mail you a packet.


 

WSDA reviews your complete application

After your application is submitted, WSDA Organic Program staff will review your organic system plan for compliance with the USDA organic regulations. An organic certification specialist may request clarification or additional information if anything is missing or unclear.

Inspector visits your operation

Each operation seeking organic certification have an on-site inspection each year. After your new application is reviewed, a WSDA organic inspector will contact you to schedule an initial inspection. The inspector will review your records, sites, equipment, and facilities to verify your practices match your organic system plan. The inspector will then compile their observations and submit a report to the WSDA Organic Program office.

WSDA reviews inspection report

Members of the WSDA organic review team will evaluate the report to ensure your practices comply with the USDA organic regulations. An organic certification specialist may request clarification or additional information if the inspector identified areas of concern.

WSDA issues organic certificate

Once any missing pieces of information are collected and all areas of concern are properly addressed, WSDA organic program will issue an organic certificate to your business. Your certificate will be specific to the crops, livestock, or products that can be sold, labeled, or represented with an organic claim. 

To maintain organic certification, your business must renew your application by March 1 each year and schedule an annual on-site inspection when contacted by a WSDA organic inspector.

How long does certification take?

The time it takes to complete the certification process will depend on several factors such as: the completeness of your application, the complexity of your business, and the timing of your harvest or production date. Due to the nature and complexity of the certification process, WSDA Organic Program recommends producers apply for certification at least 3 ½ months prior to your expected harvest date. Handlers and processors should apply at least 3 ½ months prior to your plan to market organic products.

The transition period

Crops must be harvested from a site that has been managed organically for at least 36 months prior to harvest. Farms are not required to be certified or inspected during this three year transition period, but must manage the site organically and maintain sufficient records, such as input application records, that demonstrate how the site was managed prior to applying for organic certification. WSDA offers an optional transitional certification program for farms that want to ensure they are establishing compliant practices that will pave the way for organic certification. 

Resources for new applicants

WSDA Organic Program has compiled a collection of resources which may be valuable to businesses considering organic certification, including lists of approved input materials, example record keeping forms, and a short video series to on organic certification requirements.