Our small farm in Western Oregon has been certified organic since 1993. Besides our own operations, we have worked with large and small clients in all facets of organic production including domestic dairies, cow-calf operations and vegetable and field crop producers throughout the Americas, including Mexico, Belize, Chile and Argentina.
By drawing on our own farming experience and our nearly 30 years working in organic certification and inspection, we are able to offer you a unique bundle of services tailored to your operation(s). These include:
Help choosing the right certifier. We know the certification landscape. Because were are familiar with and/or have worked for most of the larger North American certifiers, we can help choose the certifier that works best for your farm, based on your type of operation, what other certified entities are located near you (this often allows a certifier to share inspection costs with your neighbors), and how fast you need to be certified. The best certifier for a large greenhouse in the Southwest, including parallel production (both organic and conventional crops) and multiple crops per year, may not be the best choice for a cereals crop producer in the Midwest.
Preparing your Organic System Plan. Once you’ve decided on a certification agency, the first step in the process involves completing the application, referred to as the “Organic System Plan,” or “OSP.” Don’t worry if you don’t understand the language and terminology of organic certification. We do! And we can write your OSP so that the certifier will quickly understand everything they need to know about your operation and your ability to comply with the regulations. Depending on the certifier you decide to contract, the application can be completed online, in a paper version or a fillable pdf.
Sourcing organic seed, feed, bedding and inputs. Organic regulations require that you use organic seed if it is “commercially available.” We can help you search for and find organic seed, as well as help you document when organic seed is not available in the “type, quantity, and quality” that you need, thereby allowing you to use untreated, conventional seed. Similarly, we can help you choose organic nutrients and pest management materials for you operation, often working with your existing crop advisor or IPM scout to find materials the work well for your particular location, crops and needs.
Advice on veterinary products for dairies and other livestock operations. At times there is nothing more frustrating than having a sick animal and not knowing what to treat her with. We can help you or your vet put together and toolbox of allowed materials before a crisis strikes or even work with you to get a material rapidly approved by your certifier when you need it yesterday! We can also schedule regular visits to your farm, to make sure that the products in your barn are the same brands and materials listed in your Organic System Plan. Materials are regularly dropped from the National List, and certifiers are even more frequently dropping previously approved products due to a lack of updated information on ingredients. Let us keep your barn and vet cabinet in compliance, so you can worry about other things
Help you keep track of grazing day and DMI requirements. Let’s face it, complying with the USDA organic pasture requirements can be tough sometimes. Sure, you graze well over 120 days, but can you really document that all the cows in your herd are getting the required 30% dry matter intake during your season? What about heifers held in for breeding? Are your calves really out on pasture by 6 months? What about excessive heat/cold, drought, etc.? We can help you set up a system to track these values, so you stay on the right side of the rule and spend less time explaining your system to the inspector.
Being there through the inspection and beyond. At IOS we’ve performed thousands of organic inspections. We know what an inspector is going to look for and we can help you get ready, get your records in order, and better understand the certification process. Depending on your needs, we can even attend the inspection to help explain your system to the inspector. After the inspection, if there are any issues (we like to prevent these before the inspection if possible), we can help you quickly resolve these so you can get back to farming!
Help responding to “Noncompliances.” Despite your conscientious best efforts, sometimes things go wrong and your certifier issues you a “Request for Information” or even a “Noncompliance.” Don't worry, these things can normally be resolved fairly quickly. We’ve seen and issued a lot of Noncompliances over the years and we generally know what a certifier needs to see in order to resolve the problem. Because we also work as certification reviewers and inspectors, we speak the language of organic certification, and understand the rules underpinning your certifier’s action. After we get the Noncompliance corrected, we’ll work with you to put system in place so that it doesn’t happen again.
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