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Certification FAQs

Looking into certification for your business or operation and want to learn more? We’ve answered some of the most frequently asked certification questions below.

For more information about certification, contact your Certification Body.

In-conversion is the period of time a farmer goes through before they can be fully certified organic. It’s like training wheels – they’re transitioning to certified organic. During the in-conversion period they must adhere to the Standard to which they are being certified to. In-conversion farmers cannot use prohibited synthetic chemicals and other inputs, livestock must be free to range on natural pasture, with no use of antibiotics, hormones or GMO to name a few of the requirements. They are also audited every year and products that are in-conversion are sold with a stippled logo such as the Australian Certified Organic In-Conversion logo. Download our In-Conversion Fact Sheet at the link below:

Australia is one of the few remaining developed countries without domestic regulation of the use of the word “organic” on produce labeling.

However, the major supermarkets and wholesalers in Australia generally require organic certification to validate organic product claims. Additionally, the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) have in recent years taken action on produce labeling including reference to organic status that are not compliant to the National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce (known simply as the ‘National Standard’). So, while you currently may not be legally required to be certified to make organic claims, it is recommended.

Organic certification in Australia varies in cost depending on the type of operation (farm, processor, handler etc.), the number of locations, and the export markets you intend to sell into. Certification fees also vary between Certification Bodies. As a general guide, certification for a farm with only one location may cost between $1,000 and $2,000 AUD per year. Check with your Certification Body for further guidance.

For a processing facility, where conversion periods do not apply, certification can be easily achieved in 2-3 months. However, this assumes the applicant is able to comply with the relevant standards, have a detailed Organic Management Plan prepared, and make all information available to their certification body in a timely fashion. Delays beyond 3 months are most often due to an applicant not being able to demonstrate compliance with the relevant standards. If you cannot demonstrate compliance – you will not achieve certification – no matter your rush!

For farms, conversion periods apply – one year to achieve ‘In-Conversion’ certification, and a total of 3 years of organic management to achieve ‘Organic’ status. This reflects the learning process that is involved in going organic, and allows time for soil conditions to improve, and for chemical residues which may exist in the soil from historical conventional farming, to break down.

Broadly speaking, organic certification involves the preparation of a documented plan for how you will comply with the relevant standards. This “Organic Management Plan”(OMP) becomes the foundation of your certification.

It is reviewed and approved by an Approved Organic Certifying Organisation, and once approved, an auditor is sent to visit your operation and check that you are complying with your approved OMP. After a successful audit, you may be issued with your certificate. The certificate lasts one year, and you must be audited each year to be issued a new certificate.

See Prepare for Certification for more information.

Organic certification, as provided by any of the five DAFF Approved Certifying Organisations, typically includes certification to the National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce. This certification allows you to legally export agricultural produce with reference to organic on the labeling and commercial documentation. It is important to note however, that this certification does not guarantee you will be able to export to your particular target market.

It is vital that you ask your Certification Body well in advance, if there are any additional market access restrictions for organic produce, and if so, whether or not they can provide the additional certifications required.

For further information on exporting of organic produce, see here.

The best source of advice and assistance with the process of organic certification will come from your Certification Body. However, it is worth noting that under Government rules, Certification Bodies are not allowed to give specific advice about your particular situation. Certification Bodies may give general advice on certification and interpretation of standard requirements, however they cannot tell you how to comply.

For advice about your specific challenges with compliance, it may be worth considering engaging a professional consultant. Australian Organic Limited operates a business unit called solo advisory services, where clients can receive bespoke advice across all stages of the certification process. Visit our solo webpage here for more information.

View the current list of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry approved Certification Bodies on the DAFF website here.

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