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.

  • Do I need to be certified to label my product “organic”?

    Australia is one of the few remaining 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.

  • What does it cost?

    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 will cost between $1,000 and $2,000 AUD per year.

  • How long does it take?

    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.

  • What is involved?

    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 details

     

  • What about exporting?

    Organic certification, as provided by any of the six DAWE 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 our “Resources for Exporters” page.

  • How do I get help with the process?

    The best source of advice and assistance with the process of organic certification will come from your Certification Body (CB). However, it is worth noting that under Government rules, CBs are not allowed to give specific advice about your particular situation.

    CBs 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.

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