What does In-Conversion mean?
In-Conversion is the period of time a producer must undergo before their operation can be granted “A Grade” certification status. It’s like training wheels – their operation is transitioning to certified organic. During the In-Conversion period (and at all times throughout their certification) producers must adhere 100% to the Australian Certified Organic Standard.
Producers who are In-Conversion cannot use prohibited chemicals and other prohibited inputs. They must allow animals to range freely on natural pasture, not using antibiotics or hormones, and adhere to the strict animal welfare guidelines as required by the Standard.
How long do products remain In-Conversion?
Producers must be In-Conversion for two years before becoming fully certified organic. If a producer can prove organic compliance for a minimum of three years prior to applying for certification, through detailed management plans and soil tests, than they would only be required to be In-Conversion for one year. The duration of time in In-Conversion status depends on the operation and what records (compliance) can be provided.
How do you know producers aren’t using chemical?
Producers are audited onsite each year and undergo spot checks to make sure they’re not using chemicals or prohibited inputs. They are required to provide auditors with records of all inputs and outputs.
Australian Certified Organic tests hundreds of certified organic fresh and dried products each year for pesticide residues to ensure certified operators are being compliant.
How do I know that the farm hasn’t got contaminated soil?
As part of the very first audit that takes place on a farm, auditors test the soil for chemical residue. If there are residues in the soil the farm cannot be certified organic.
If the residue only affects a small part of the property, for example an old sheep dip, the rest of the farm can be certified organic but the contaminated area must be fenced off from the rest of the property.
Why are In-Conversion products on the market?
It makes sense to support farmers who are already growing organically and allow them to sell In-Conversion products in the marketplace. The only difference between their product and one that is fully certified organic is time.
Farming organically can significantly increase their costs because they can only use organic inputs (such as certified organic animal feed) or manually weed – so why not support their efforts?
How can I tell if a product is In-Conversion?