Certification Process


Diagram of the VOF certification process, as outlined below in the text.


  1. Contact VOF

If you are a new applicant, call our office to talk with our friendly staff about your certification needs and timeline. For new operations, the certification process can take two to six months. It may take less time, but this is dependent upon the complexity of your operation, your ability to provide information, and inspector location and availability. Late season farm applications might not be accepted, as inspector availability becomes increasingly limited late in the year, and we are required to see the crops growing in the fields. 


  1. Fill out your Organic System Plan

 A complete application includes an Organic System Plan (OSP) and paying a certification fee. The OSP can be filled out online or we can provide a paper copy. 


  1. Initial Review

Staff will review your organic system plan and make review comments about items that may need follow up or more information, these can be addressed during your inspection. You will be notified of these comments via email and you can view them in the online community.


  1. Inspection

An independent inspector will contact you to set up a time for your annual inspection. Inspection occurs at the farm or production location.*Do not make any management changes/decisions based on the initial findings of the inspection*. Inspectors are the “eyes and ears” of VOF, but do not make any certification decisions. 


  1. Granting Certification

The inspector completes a final report and submits it to the VOF office. Staff will review the inspection report and summarize any findings. These findings fall into four categories:

  • Additional notes: Simple reminders or responses to a finding at the inspection.
  • Points of Improvement (POI): A minor issue that should be improved for the next certification year. Your next year’s inspector will check on this point to ensure you’ve worked on an improvement. 
  • Condition for Continued Certification (CCC): An issue noted from your inspection report that requires follow up with the VOF office within 60 days. This may be documentation required, or a statement verifying how you will resolve an issue moving forward. If a CCC is not resolved within the required timeframe, it becomes a noncompliance.
  • Notice of Noncompliance (NoNC): a noncompliance is considered an issue of importance. A noncompliance requires a written response to the VOF office within 30 days. The organic certificate will not be issued or renewed until the noncompliance is resolved. If unresolved within the required timeframe, or not resolved satisfactorily, a noncompliance can turn into a Notice of Proposed suspension which jeopardizes your ability to remain certified. 

Once the inspection report is reviewed you will receive an email with instructions on how to view any comments made by the certification staff and how to download your organic certificate.


  1. Annual Renewal

Be on the lookout for a notice reminding you it’s time to submit a renewal application!