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Organic Certifiers Recognized for Data Partnership and Collaboration

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) today recognized the work of accredited organic certifiers with awards for extraordinary support of the National Organic Standards. The awards were presented at the annual NOP Certifier Training for organic inspectors from around the world, held virtually. Ten certifiers were recognized for exceeding requirements for delivering high quality data to the Organic INTEGRITY Database in 2021. Two Certifiers were also recognized with a Director’s Award for outstanding contributions to work in organic certification.

“These awards recognize the success of our public-private partnership and demonstrate the close collaboration between certifiers and the program to protect consumer confidence and maintain a level playing field for organic farmers, ranchers and businesses,” said NOP Deputy Administrator Jennifer Tucker. “The work of these certifiers really stood out, even at a time when the overall quality and timeliness of the data being provided voluntarily continues to improve each year.”

Up-to-date public information about organic operations helps buyers and sellers find each other in the marketplace, making data an important market development tool. The USDA Organic Integrity Database makes it easy for anyone to look up the status of a certified organic operation and see the products that each farm and business has to offer.

The fifth annual Investing in INTEGRITY Data Quality Award winners are (listed alphabetically):

CCOF Certification Services, LLC (CCOF) – Santa Cruz, CA

Certificadora Mexicana de Productos y Procesos Ecologicos SC (CMEX) – Oaxaca, Mexico

Clemson University (CU) – Pendleton, SC

Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) – Des Moines, IA

LACON GmbH (LACON) – Offenburg, Germany

Marin Organic Certified Agriculture (MOCA) – Novato, CA

MOFGA Certification Services, LLC (MCS) – Unity, ME

New Hampshire Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food (NHDAMF) – Concord, NH

Primus Auditing Operations (PAO) – Santa Maria, CA

Quality Certification Services (QCS) – Gainesville, FL

Exceeding Data Requirements

The federal organic regulations currently require that certifiers annually submit a set of basic facts regarding all certified operations to the Organic Integrity Database. The database also includes many optional fields, like acreage and head count for cattle or poultry, that can aid in oversight. The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rulemaking underway will increase accreditation and certification oversight, in part, through additional reporting and training requirements for certifiers and inspectors.

The ten certifiers recognized today significantly exceeded the minimum requirements by supplying additional detail on their certified operations and submitting updates on a rolling basis throughout the year.

Over the past year, two certifiers stood also out for their consistent, effective communication and collaboration with NOP staff on a wide range of issues and day-to-day operations, including fraud investigations. Their regular, open collaboration with the Program provided increased insight into the real-world application of the organic standards, while allowing the NOP to more effectively ensure certifiers are consistently applying the standards for USDA certified farms and businesses located in the U.S. and around the world.

For their outstanding contributions to work in organic certification, the 2022 National Organic Program Director’s Award winners are:

Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO) – Corvallis, OR

MOFGA Certification Services, LLC (MCS) – Unity, ME

Organic Oversight

The NOP develops and enforces voluntary standards for organically produced agricultural products sold in the United States. Congress established the NOP as a regulatory program that operates as a public-private partnership. The NOP currently accredits and oversees 76 certifiers operating around the world.

These third-party organizations inspect and certify organic farms and businesses to the USDA organic regulations. USDA also invests significant resources to develop certifier and inspector capabilities and oversee their work year-round.

The Organic INTEGRITY Database makes information on current and former certified organic operations publicly available online from anywhere in the world. It allows users to quickly confirm the organic certification status and other details of a farm or business and helps certifiers support the organic community in market development and fraud prevention.

More information on organic enforcement and oversight is available on the NOP website at www.ams.usda.gov/organic.

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