5 Easy Steps to Certification
The Pro-Cert Certification process in a nutshell
Application & Preliminary Evaluation
Certification begins with an Initial application package provided by Pro-Cert. Applications for certification may be submitted at any time through the year. Certification Extension applicants are contacted in advance of their renewal date to initiate the extension process. Certification fees are detailed in Pro-Cert’s Fee Schedule(s). Initial applicants may request an all-inclusive quotation without obligation.
You must complete an Application & Contract for Certification (initial or extension) and return it to Pro-Cert along with a retainer fee. These documents capture your Organic System Plan(s) and annual updates respectively. The Application & Contract also contains and renews the annual Contract for Certification Services.
Upon receipt of the Application & Contract, Pro-Cert completes a preliminary evaluation of your System Plans. You will be notified of the results of this evaluation and any non-compliances which need to be addressed and/or of any additional information required.
The inspector assigned to your file will make a definite appointment to inspect your operation. Initial applicants may be inspected prior to handling of organic products. The inspection will occur during the growing season or while organic products are handled by your operation.
During the inspection, the inspector will verify the System Plan is operating as described in the Application & Contract. The inspector will assess your compliance and/or your ability to comply with applicable standards / regulations. Further, the inspector will ensure there is no evidence of contamination or commingling with unpermitted substances and/or non-compliant products.
Inspections also include an audit component whereby the inspector will select compliant commodities and conduct traceability and mass-balance (in vs out) audits. The inspector will close the inspection with an exit meeting where they will discuss their findings with you and provide you with a summary of the same.
Evaluation & Resolution
After the inspection, Pro-Cert’s Certification/Evaluation Committee will evaluate the conformity of your operation and/or its products to the applicable standards, regulations, and/or equivalency arrangements and export agreements. You will be notified of any noncompliances and/or any missing information needed to complete the evaluation, and given 30 days to provide proof of correction of non-compliances or a plan to correct the same.
The annual certification decision is made by a consensus seeking mechanism within the Certification/Evaluation Committee of Pro-Cert. The nature of this certification decision varies with the program but in essence involves one of the following options:
1. granting or extending certification;
2. denial (initial applicants only) of certification;
3. suspension of certification;
4. revocation or cancellation or certification.
A Certificate of Conformity will be issued in the case of granting or extending certification. In the case of denial, you will be informed of the reasons for denial and the applicable appeal procedures and costs. Certification once granted remains in place until surrendered by you or suspended, cancelled or revoked by Pro-Cert or the program regulators.
Surveillance & Enforcement
Pro-Cert will monitor the conformity of your operation and produce during the certification period by such procedures as:
1. follow-up on implementation of corrective actions,
2. unannounced inspections,
3. collection and review of labels and advertising material.
Sanctions for serious non-compliances discovered during inspections and surveillance include suspension, revocation or cancellation of your certification status.