Skip to main content

NC State Extension

How to Pick a Certifier

en Español / em Português

El inglés es el idioma de control de esta página. En la medida en que haya algún conflicto entre la traducción al inglés y la traducción, el inglés prevalece.

Al hacer clic en el enlace de traducción se activa un servicio de traducción gratuito para convertir la página al español. Al igual que con cualquier traducción por Internet, la conversión no es sensible al contexto y puede que no traduzca el texto en su significado original. NC State Extension no garantiza la exactitud del texto traducido. Por favor, tenga en cuenta que algunas aplicaciones y/o servicios pueden no funcionar como se espera cuando se traducen.


Inglês é o idioma de controle desta página. Na medida que haja algum conflito entre o texto original em Inglês e a tradução, o Inglês prevalece.

Ao clicar no link de tradução, um serviço gratuito de tradução será ativado para converter a página para o Português. Como em qualquer tradução pela internet, a conversão não é sensivel ao contexto e pode não ocorrer a tradução para o significado orginal. O serviço de Extensão da Carolina do Norte (NC State Extension) não garante a exatidão do texto traduzido. Por favor, observe que algumas funções ou serviços podem não funcionar como esperado após a tradução.


English is the controlling language of this page. To the extent there is any conflict between the English text and the translation, English controls.

Clicking on the translation link activates a free translation service to convert the page to Spanish. As with any Internet translation, the conversion is not context-sensitive and may not translate the text to its original meaning. NC State Extension does not guarantee the accuracy of the translated text. Please note that some applications and/or services may not function as expected when translated.

Collapse ▲

by Tony Kleese

Choosing a certifier is just like choosing any other service provider. You will be the most satisfied if you do a little research up front to ensure that you are getting the most for your hard earned money. We recommend using the following criteria to evaluate which certifier is right for you.


First recognize that it is not necessary for the certifier to be located in your state. Any certifier accredited by the USDA can certify anywhere in the country. They may self-limit their range but they do not need to have an office in your state. The location of the inspectors they use is an issue. Some certifiers may require that you use inspectors that are not located near you. You will have to pay their travel expense, so this can have a major impact on your cost. Ask the certifier about who their inspectors are and how far away they are from your farm.


The USDA does not regulate fees for certification. Some certifiers charge a flat rate based on acreage, some charge a base fee and then charge an assessment based on sales. Both fee structures are intended to make it scale-specific so a small operation is not charged the same as a large operation. Shop around and see what works for you. Remember to factor in inspector costs.

Turnaround Time

We suggest that you budget a minimum of 3 to 4 months for the first time through the system. It can take as much as 6 months if your operation is complicated or there are other delays in the process. Ask the certifier what their average turnaround time is and be very thorough in your application/farm plan as this will reduce the need to collect additional information. It may also be helpful to ask the certifier if they have recommendations on the times of year when their load is lighter and they can move faster.

Service Area/History/Activism

Certifiers are accredited to perform certification services for the USDA for crops, livestock, and handling. Some certifiers may not offer services in all of these areas. Some may be more oriented to the manufacturer market instead of the small farmer market. Make sure you are very clear about what products you want to have certified so you can ensure that the certifier can meet your needs. Some certifiers are just getting into organic certification and some have been at it for years. You may find that this impacts the service you receive. Some certifiers, especially the older ones, are very active at the federal and state level by participating on committees and advisory boards. If this activism is important to you, you may want to support a certifier who participates in these activities.

End Product Issues

If the crop you are certifying will end up in a manufactured product, you may want to consider being certified by the same certifier as the final product. Technically, this should have no impact because in the eyes of the USDA, all certifiers and certifications are equal, but it may make the sale and distribution of your product go smoother if they are the same.

List of Accredited Certifying Agents: National Organic Program

Back to Organic Certification Guide

Written By

Debbie Roos, N.C. Cooperative ExtensionDebbie RoosExtension Agent, Agriculture - Sustainable / Organic Production Call Debbie Email Debbie N.C. Cooperative Extension, Chatham County Center
Page Last Updated: 7 years ago
Was the information on this page helpful? Yes check No close