Operators wishing to access the Canadian Organic Market can do so with a USDA NOP certification and an Equivalence Attestation from NCO.
The Equivalence Agreement signed between the US and Canada (USCOEA) enables operators certified by NCO under the USDA NOP to label organic goods for export to Canada providing the following conditions are met:
- The Chain of Custody must be fully NOP compliant – this means that for any product to be exported to Canada, each part of the chain must be NOP certified.
- An Equivalence Attestation is required to accompany organic raw and processed products shipped to Canada under the NOP Organic certification. This is obtained from NCO and is in the form of a certificate. This is a requirement so that products crossing the borders are verified to meet the terms of the USCOEA and must appear on documentation travelling with the shipment.
- Organic labelling rules in Canada are different to that of the US. US labels can have “100% Organic” and “Made with Organic” on the front panel, but Canada does not allow this. Canadian labels have to be bilingual (ie French and English).
Products imported into Canada must meet the requirements of the Canada Organic Regime. Imported products that bear the logo must include:
- the statement "Product of", immediately preceding the name of the country of origin, or
- the statement "Imported", in close proximity to the logo
These statement must appear on the label in both French and English, unless a bilingual labelling exemption applies.
To apply for export approval to Canada under NOP certification, please send details of the products to be exported and the label to be used. NCO will produce an Equivalence Attestation for the relevant products. Labels must be approved by NCO prior to export to Canada. The NOP label may be used. NCO may authorise use of the Canadian label.
USDA - NOP
The National Organic Program (NOP), a stand-alone certification program developed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), came into effect in October 2002 to regulate organic production, processing and marketing in the US.
NCO has been accredited by the USDA to carry out certification services for the NOP. Under the NOP regulations, all members of the supply chain must be certified to the NOP standard i.e all suppliers and handlers of ingredients and/or products that are labelled, sold, or represented.
The certification process is similar, whether your operation is based in, or outside of, Australia. To obtain NOP certification, applicants must develop an annually updated 'Organic System Plan' - in accordance with NOP requirements, which details specific standards for organic management, and for the labelling of product (based on the percentage of organic ingredients in a product).
Operators will need to be able to demonstrate that they are substantially compliant with these requirements prior to an initial inspection. Where non-compliances are noted, or insufficient information supplied, it is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that such issues are addressed within a defined timeframe. Additionally, any modifications to the System Plan will need to receive approval prior to implementation.
Whilst there is no conversion period in accordance with the NOP requirements, the system is not retrospective. Certification will be granted following point of application and initial positive inspection, provided that at least three years compliance can be demonstrated.
USDA NOP Standards
The USDA NOP Standards (containing standards for primary production, manufacturing & distribution) are your guide to achieving recognised status:
It is essential that you read through the relevant Standards applicable to your operation before submitting an application for certification.
Application & Questionnaire
Making an application for USDA NOP certification requires the completion of various documents.
In addition to submitting the USDA NOP Application Form and after reading the relevant standards, you will be required to complete a Questionnaire outlining your organic management plan. Information contained within the questionnaire, along with relevant support documentation, will form the basis of your 'NOP Organic Systems Plan'. NCO staff responsible for the administration of the program will work with you to ensure that this essential compliance documentation meets NOP requirements prior to inspection.
There are two relevant Questionnaires: the NOP Organic System Plan (Primary Production) and the NOP Organic Handling Questionnaire (Manufacturing & Distribution). In addition to the Farm Questionnaire, specific information is required to be supplied by Livestock Farmers. Similarly, in addition to the Handling Plan, specific information is required for Organic Milk handling.
Inspection & Review
Following the approval of your organic system plan, you will receive a letter of confirmation from NCO, naming an inspector who has been allocated to inspect your operation and to verify your approved plan.
Inspections are subcontracted to a wide network of professional, independent and NASAA trained 'organic inspectors' conversant with the requirements of the USDA NOP program. In addition to scheduled inspections, unannounced and additional inspections may be carried out at NCO discretion.
Inspection reports will then be reviewed by NCO's Inspection Review Committee, and a decision made in relation to certification.
USDA NOP Fees & Charges
NCO's fees for USDA NOP certification are competitive, with a pricing structure which serves to underpin the provision of the certification service, facilitating access throughout the world for NASAA certified product.
Our fee structure comprises an initial application fee and inspection deposit, and annual charges and levy payment system where applicable.
Contact the NASAA/ NCO Office for a copy of the Fee Schedule for further detail on applicable certification costs.
For further information about USDA NOP certification through NCO please contact the office.
NASAA Certified Organic is accredited by Japan MAFF for JAS certification. For export to Japan using the JAS Organic label, you must be certified under JAS.
We offer organic certification to Chinese Organic Standard in association with COFCC. Organic certification for Chinese market has specific inspection and certification requirements as required by COFCC (Chinese Organic Certifier). Please contact the NCO office if you intend to export to these markets.
POETCom was established to serve as the regional peak body for the organics industry and to advocate at the international level on issues that impact on the development of organics in the Pacific and at regional and national levels for the promotion and development of organics. Its vision is “Pacific Organics – the key contributor to sustaining our cultures and communities; improving farmer livelihoods, peoples health and the environment in the Pacific”
It is guided by a strategic plan and has the endorsement of National Organic Organisations throughout the Pacific. It has also the endorsement of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and its 22 Pacific countries and territory members.
POETCom has developed the Pacific Organic Standard (POS). The POS has been assessed by the International Organic Accreditation Service (IOAS) as being equivalent to the EU organic regulations. It has also been assessed through the Common Objectives and Requirements of Organic Standards (COROS) tool by IFOAM and accepted into the IFOAM Family of Standards. NCO signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that has been established between the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) on behalf of the Pacific Organic and Ethical Trade Community (POETCom) and selected 3rd Party Certifiers (Approved Certification Partners) with the aim of fostering the development of organic agriculture in the Pacific Region through the development of organic certification services.
NCO offers certification to the Pacific Organic Standard. NCO operators in the Pacific region certified to the NASAA Organic Standard may be able to use the Pacific Mark on products produced and processed in the Pacific.
Many NCO clients have expressed interest in combining their Organic Inspection and HACCP Audit. To provide this service to our clients, NCO has sealed an agreement with Total Quality Certification Services International Pty Ltd (TQCSI) to conduct combined Organic Inspection and HACCP Audits for our mutual clients.
Organic and HACCP certification will remain the responsibility of respective agencies, however this agreement provides the opportunity for our clients to save on inspection time and overheads by combining the inspection and audit.
If you have HACCP certification with TQCSI, please advise the NCO office so that we can work with TQCSI to combine your future inspections/audits. If you are considering HACCP certification, the following will provide you with some background of what is involved.
What is HACCP?
Hazard Analysis of Critical Control Points, or HACCP, is a systematic preventive approach to food safety and allergenic, chemical, and biological hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe, and implement measures to reduce these risks to a safe level. In this manner, HACCP is referred to as the prevention of hazards rather than finished product inspection. This approach has significant benefits to organisations operating within the food supply chain, as it enables them to determine key controls over processes and concentrate resources on activities critical to food safety.
TQCSI is accredited by the Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) as a third party certification body (ACC S1480196AA) for Management Systems. Operators who are certified to the HACCP Code prepared by TQCSI can demonstrate to their customers an ability to prepare safe food or beverage under a certified Food Safety Program. They also demonstrate the flexibility to confidently supply larger customers who require HACCP certification. Appropriately certified organisations may exhibit the TQCSI HACCP certification mark.
Advantages of combined Organic Inspection and HACCP Audit
Preparing for an audit takes time in addition to the duration time of the physical audit. Combining your Organic Inspection and HACCP Audit will save you considerable time by providing a more efficient auditing event, one instead of two, and saving time on verifying common check points across both certifications. In addition, there will be savings on the travel costs charged by the auditor. The client benefits by paying the overheads costs for one visit only. If you would like to take advantage of a combined Organic Inspection and HACCP Audit, you must be a mutual client of NCO and TQCSI.
What do I need to do?
If you already have HACCP certification with TQCSI and you would like to combine your inspections, please let the NCO office know and we will negotiate a combined inspection with TQCSI.
If you have HACCP certification with another agency and you would like to combine your inspections you will be required to transfer your HACCP certification to TQCSI.
This is a very simple process and TQCSI will waive the transfer fee. The NCO office will notify TQCSI of your interest to transfer your HACCP certification. The NCO office will provide you with an enquiry form for completion and will forward it to TQCSI on your behalf. TQCSI will provide you with a quote for annual fees which will include the audit fee and annual registration.
If you do not have HACCP but would like certification, this can be arranged for you. The NCO office will provide you with a TQCSI enquiry form for completion and will forward it to TQCSI. TQCSI will provide the client with a formal quote to accept. The quote will be based on the size and a risk assessment of your operation. NCO and TQCSI will combine your inspections once registration is completed.
For further information and costs please contact the NCO office
We offer Fairtrade certification in association with FairTSA. Fairtrade certification has specific inspection and certification requirements as required by FairTSA. Please contact the NCO office if you intend to obtain certification to the Fair trade Standards of FairTSA.
The agreement between NCO and FairTSA authorises NCO to provide inspection services and certification under the new standard for Fair Trade, which connects producers' quality products to a global network of ethically minded buyers. It is designed to be conducted together with organic certification such as IFOAM, NOP, JAS and other well-known organic standards.
This is an additional program for NCO and one that fits very well for those who are certified organic. FairTSA offers producers additional recognition and market access with strong requirements regarding environmental and social sustainability. It offers:
1. High professional standard - designed from the start to comply with all ISO requirements
2. Minimizing the certification and licensing effort
3. Maximizing the benefit for producers and their communities
4. Creating value for buyers and consumers.
The alliance connects producers' quality products to a global network of ethically-minded buyers, helping to ensure a fair price for growers. In addition, operators of FairTSA adopted abroad pay a social premium, which is used for development, support and documentation of any Community Development Projects.
For FairTSA, improving product quality and competitiveness in the market, such as implementing better treatment of post-harvest, qualifies for this category. Also improving health care for children attending school in growing communities can be part of the project.
We offer organic certification to Naturland Standards in association with Naturland. Organic certification to the Naturland Standards has specific inspection and certification requirements.
Please contact the NCO office if you intend to certify to the Naturland certification.
We offer organic certification to Korean Organic Standard in association with Ecocert Korea. Organic certification for Korean market has specific inspection and certification requirements as required by Ecocert Korea (Korean Organic Certifier).
Please contact the NCO office if you intend to export to these markets.
In June 2007 the European Council of Agricultural Ministers agreed on a new Council Regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products. This Council Regulation contains defines goals, principles and general rules for organic production. Export of plant and plant products from Australia to the EU is covered under Australia - EU equivalence arrangement. This excludes livestock, honey, and wine exports. It means operators certified to the NCO- Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) certification program can export plant and plant products to the EU. For the excluded product categories (e.g. Wine) operators may be able to obtain certification through NCO’s EU recognition. Please discuss your intention to export organic produce to the EU with the NCO staff.
NCO has been recognised by the European Commission to offer certification services in countries specifically listed in the European Commission certifiers list.
Since July 2012 NCO’s standard certification program for Producers and Processors has been NASAA-DAWR with the option for operators also to be under IFOAM if they wish. If a certification meets standard program requirements certified produce will bear the NASAA Label. If it meets both standard program and IFOAM the operator may use the NASAA label together with the IFOAM Seal.
1. PRODUCERS: There is very little difference in the requirements set by NASAA-DAWR program and IFOAM with respect to Producers although horticulturalists may find they can use some products under NASAA-DAWR which are disallowed under IFOAM. Please refer to the additional IFOAM requirements.
2. PROCESSORS: Traditionally NCO’s processor program has been NASAA-DAWR-IFOAM with an option for processors to opt out of IFOAM requirements for ingredients sourcing if these prove too onerous. Going forward the standard processor program will be NASAA-DAWR with an option for processors to be under IFOAM as well if they are compliant. Please refer to the additional IFOAM requirements.
3. LABELLING and FEES Labelling of Product will reflect the program chosen. As from 1 July 2013 an additional fee will apply where the operator elects to use the IFOAM Seal in conjunction with the NASAA Label.
The NASAA DOMESTIC ORGANIC program is based on conforming with the NASAA Organic Standard with the exception that inspections will be every two years rather than every year. In the intervening year operators will complete an annual Organic Management Plan Update and assessment by NCO will be by desk audit. Please note this is not an accredited certification program.
The NASAA Domestic Organic Program applies to
- Australian producers
- With gross annual organic sales of less than $40,000pa
- With sales to local outlets such as farmers markets
- Who do not wish to sell to wholesalers or to export organic product either now or in the future
1. If at any time in the future you wish to change to NASAA DAWR (export accreditation) you are required to undergo minimum conversion under the NASAA-DAWR program
2. If you require additional accreditation including for specific label requirements and international market access you will need to complete separate IFOAM, NOP and/or JAS requirements.
What does the new program offer?
- Fixed lower annual fees incorporating your inspection and reviews
- Biennial inspection – once every two years
- Desk audit in the bye year
- A separate NASAA Domestic Label and your Registration # followed by the suffix D to denote the Domestic Program
NASAA DOMESTIC ORGANIC PROGRAM: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Do I still have to comply with organic standards?
Yes, there is no change to this requirement. The only exception is the inspection by NCO will be every two years rather than every year. You will be required to complete a Statutory declaration in the non-inspection years.
Under the Domestic Program will I still be certified and at what level?
Your operation may be approved by NCO at the conversion level depending upon how far you are into the system.
Which label and registration number will apply to the NASAA Domestic Program?
Produce approved under the Domestic Program will carry the NASAA Domestic Label and your registration # followed by a D. The NASAA Certified Organic Label may not be used on produce certified under the Domestic Program.
As a small producer I want to be able to sell to wholesalers. Will I be able to do this under the Domestic Program?
If you want to retain the option to sell into the wholesaling network you will need to stay under NCO’s DAWR accredited program so the Domestic Program is not applicable to your circumstances.
What if I suddenly get an interest from an overseas importer?
Organic exports from Australia must be from an operator who is certified to the National Standard. The Domestic Program only applies to operators selling their produce at farm gate, locally and at farmers’ markets and does not apply to exports.
Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR)
NASAA is nationally audited and approved under the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) Organic and Bio-dynamic Program, which commenced in 1994.
DAWR approval is a legal requirement for all organic product exported from Australia. In the absence of domestic regulation, DAWR approval also serves as the 'de facto' benchmark for certified product sold on the domestic market.
NCO’s Quality Management systems are operated in accordance with this program, and the NASAA Organic Standards are developed in line with the DAWR administered National Standard. NASAA-DAWR certification program is NCO’s standard certification program for operators in Australia. Under this program operators are certified to the National Standard for Organic and Biodynamic Produce (NS) and the NASAA Organic Standards (NOS). Certification to this program facilitates the market access to most non-regulated export markets, European Union (For Plant and Plant Products excluding Wine, Honey, and Livestock), Japan (conditions apply), and Taiwan. Additional certifications may be required for the following export markets:
2. EU (for Wine, Honey, Livestock)
6. Other regulated markets.
Please contact the NCO office for the additional certification program that suits your export market requirements.