Approved certifying organisations
The Export Control (Organic Produce Certification) Orders allows the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to assess organic certifying bodies and recognise them as approved certifying organisations. Once an organisation is recognised as an approved certifying organisation, it may perform the following functions on the department's behalf:
- Assess organic and bio-dynamic operators to determine compliance to the National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce and importing country requirements.
- Issue a Quality Management Certificate (QM Certificate) to organic operators to recognise compliance to export requirements.
- Issue Organic Produce Certificates (Export Documentation) for consignments of organic and bio-dynamic produce being exported.
The department has several approved certifying organisations that manage the certification process of organic and bio-dynamic operators.
All approved certifying organisations are assessed by the department for both initial recognition and at least annually after that to verify they comply with all requirements.
The department consults with and informs approved certifying organisations and the industry about any changes to export requirements and importing country requirements. Consultation is primarily through the Organic Industry Standards and Certification Council (OISCC), while the Organic Notices are distributed to inform stakeholders about system changes and issues.
Questions and answers
How do I become an approved certifying organisation?
To become an approved certifying organisation you must apply to the department using the
The department's Export Organic Program will assess your application including:
- a review of documentation provided
- an on-site audit at your business to assess the adequacy and effective implementation of the documented management system you propose.
If deemed to be adequate, the department will give approval under a co-regulatory arrangement to become an approved certifying organisation.
The fees and charges relating to the application and ongoing assessment processes are defined in the Export Control (Fees) Orders 2001.
What ongoing assessment does the department conduct on approved certifying organisations?
An announced audit is conducted by the department annually, together with a review of 1 per cent of the operators certified by your organisation.
The annual announced audit assesses whether your system is adequately documented and effectively implemented to assure compliance with the following:
- Export Control (Organic Produce Certification) Orders
- Administrative Arrangements
- National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce - Edition 3.7
- Importing country requirements.
The review of operators is generally done by witnessing an inspection conducted by your inspectors/auditors. The purpose of these reviews is to assess the competency of your inspectors/auditors, including how effectively they assess compliance to the requirements of the National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce and importing country requirements; and action taken to address identified areas of non-compliance.
What are my responsibilities as an approved certifying organisation?
As an approved certifying organisation you are responsible for:
- advising your clients about export requirements, including interpreting the National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce
- monitoring organic and bio-dynamic operations to ensure that produce certified through your systems complies with the National Standard for Organic and Bio-Dynamic Produce and importing country requirements
- maintaining records to verify that you have robust systems in place to manage the certification process
- issuing export documentation (organic produce certificates) in accordance with the department's requirements, and ensuring that they correctly reflect the produce and its organic or bio-dynamic status
- advising the department of any change in your operations or those of your clients so that ineligible product is not exported
- providing reports to the department when requested to facilitate ongoing market access.
What are my responsibilities for issuing organic produce certificates?
As an approved certifying organisation you must ensure that your organisation manages organic produce certificates so that they are not used fraudulently. The guidelines for the control, distribution and reconciliation of organic produce certificates will assist you meet these requirements.
You are also responsible for ensuring that the organic produce certificates are issued in accordance with the department's protocols. The guidelines for the issue of organic produce certificates will assist you to comply with these requirements.
How do I know what the requirements are for importing countries?
As an approved certifying organisation you must be able to provide advice to your clients about importing country requirements. If the department becomes aware of changes to importing country requirements the advice is circulated to all approved certifying organisations. However the department is not always notified of these changes.
This information should also be available through importers, who should be able to provide advice to certifiers and exporters regarding their country's requirements.
General advice and importing country requirements for some key markets are as follows:
- Japan - Questions and answers on the Japanese Agricultural Standards for Organic Plants and Organic Processed Foods
- USA - General information on the US National Organic Program
- European Union (EU) - Rules for goods imported into the EU, Council Regulation (EC) No 834/2007 and Commission Regulation (EC) No 1235/2008 - rules for import of organic products from third countries into the EU.
- Switzerland - Ordinance on Organic Farming and the Labelling of Organically Produced Products and Foodstuffs