Organic Certification Frequently Asked Questions

Is Organic an option for me?

How do I transition to organic certification?

Ten Steps to Transition Checklist: Certification Made Simple" Workshops. Produced by USDA AMS with the California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).

What is the process to certify my farm, ranch, livestock, or processing and handling operation?

  • Go to the Organic Certification page and click on the link for your type of operation under either Handler or Producer
  • Fill out the Application Form
  • Pay the annual application fee
  • Complete or update your Organic System Plan
  • The Organic Program reviews submitted forms
  • Notice of Inspection is sent
  • Inspections are scheduled annually by the inspector
  • On-site inspection
  • Pay inspection fee
  • Final review of inspection report and documents
  • Notice of Certification and Organic Certificate sent

What records should I keep for organic certification?

Recommended Recordkeeping for Producers

  1. Seed Labels and Purchase Invoices or Receipts
  2. Seed Search Documentation (at least 3)
  3. Material Labels for those that are Used – Inoculants, Weed and Pest Control, Soil Amendments, Fertilizers, etc.
  4. Livestock Feed and Supplements Labels and Purchase Invoices/Receipts (if applicable)
  5. Livestock Feeding Records (if applicable)
  6. Pasture Management Records (if applicable)
  7. Field Activity Records/Field History Records
  8. Planting & Harvest Dates
  9. Yields
  10. Crop Storage Records/Bins
  11. Sales Invoices, Bills of Lading, Scale Tickets
  12. Crop & Acreage Plan (available on the appropriate Forms page) (New & Renewal)
  13. Detailed Maps size 8 1/2 x 11 Google Color Preferred
  14. Photos as Applicable for Verification

Recommended Recordkeeping for Handlers

  1. Receiving Documents for All Ingredients (purchase orders, purchase invoices, freight bill of lading, scale tickets)
  2. Production Records
  3. Recipes or Current Product Profiles (available on the appropriate Forms page)
  4. Current Organic Certificates from Ingredient Suppliers
  5. Equipment Clean-out and Purge Logs
  6. Sales Invoices & Bills of Lading
  7. Material Invoices (Cleaning, Packaging Materials etc.)
  8. Ingredient and Final Product Inventory Reports
  9. Shrink Log
  10. Pest Control Log and Labels for Materials used for Pest Control
  11. Detailed Sales by Item Reports for Organic Products (available on the appropriate Forms page)

Where can I find pricing and related information about organic product markets?

USDA Market News

Where can I find Certified Organic Producers or Handlers?

USDA Organic INTEGRITY Database

Do organically certified operations pay into conventional agriculture checkoffs?

Organic farmers are no longer required to pay into conventional checkoff promotion programs that promote conventional products directly competing with their organic products, as per USDA Decision effective February 29,2016.

For more information:

Montana Organic Certification Program
Phone : (406) 444-7804
or (406) 444-3001
E-mail : agrorganic@mt.gov
Fax : (406) 444-9466
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601