OPAM’s Scope of Certification includes production, processing, handling, and trading of the following:
- Grain, oilseed, pulse, and forage crops
- Livestock, dairy, and poultry
- Horticultural, herb, and spice crops
- Beekeeping and honey production
- Wild crops
- Maple and birch syrup
Land Transition Requirements
- 36 months with no prohibited inputs (fertilizer, herbicide, etc) before organic status.
- Under the Canadian system, new applicants who wish to market organic field crops must apply for certification 15 months prior to the expected marketing date. Existing clients wishing to add new land to their certification must ensure that the land is managed according to the Canadian regulations for at least 12 months prior to certification.
- The European Equivalency Agreement which came into effect July 2011 now recognizes as organic any product certified under the Canadian system.
Livestock Transition Requirements
- There is a one year transition for livestock to become organic breeding stock. Breeding stock cannot be sold for organic slaughter. Offspring from organic breeding stock is eligible for organic slaughter.
- If conventional or transitional livestock are managed organically from the start of their third trimester of gestation, then the offspring is eligible for organic slaughter..
- Dairy cattle have a one year transition before the milk produced is eligible for organic status.
- Poultry must be under organic management beginning no later than the second day of life.
- Certification costs vary depending on your operation. There is a one time co-operative membership fee of $75 plus the annual application and inspection fees which varies by sector and size of operation. Please contact the OPAM office for a detailed estimate.
- Fees are determined annually as per class of trade (i.e. small-scale processors, large-scale processors, producers, livestock etc.).
Who handles certification files?
OPAM operates under strict confidentiality and privacy policies; therefore, files are handled by personnel only as required. Office personnel, reviewers and inspectors handle client files. The Board of Directors only handles files as requested by the client (i.e. appeals).
What is the deadline for applications and fees?
- For all repeat producer clients, the annual application deadline is March 1st.
- For initial producer clients, the final date for application is July 15th.
- For repeat processor clients, the annual application deadline is July 15th.
- For all initial processor clients, the application deadline is throughout the year.
When and how are inspections scheduled and how long do they take?
- Producer inspections take place annually in the summer during the production season and are scheduled by the inspector. A producer inspection lasts from 3 to 5 hours on average, although this can vary as all operations are unique.(For an estimate of how long an inspection might take at your operation, please contact the OPAM office). Inspectors are asked to contact fruit, herb and vegetable clients and producer clients with fall or winter crops in June to schedule/confirm inspections. Inspectors are asked to contact the remaining clients in late June or early July to set a tentative inspection date; the date is confirmed closer to the time of inspection.
- Processor inspections take place annually during organic production runs.
What is the turn-around time after inspection to receive certificates?
The turn-around time is dependent in large part on the completeness of the client file, i.e. if additional information is required. On average, the organic certificate for an operation is ready six weeks after the inspection.
Market Certificates: OPAM generates a Market Certificate (MC) to verify a sale from a member’s operation. There is a service fee for Market Certificate Authorizations invoiced at the time of MC application.
How long does the Market Certificate process take?
OPAM processes Market Certificates once a week.
Are there any meetings for producers such as marketing, field days, crop improvement, educational?
OPAM offers the following annually, among other localized and specialized functions:
- Annual General Meeting – held each spring
- Summer Farm Tour(s) / Potlucks
- Annual Post-Harvest Meeting
- Specific focus seminars (i.e. livestock health) are held on occasion
Is there any cost associated with the above meetings, if applicable?
There is no cost for these meetings, however a donation to defray the costs associated with the meeting (i.e. hall rental) is appreciated.
All operations are different. OPAM welcomes the opportunity to discuss your specific certification needs in more detail. If you have any further questions please contact our office.
The following links provide background on the federal acts and regulations as they pertain to food production in Canada, and where indicated, where they pertain specifically to organic production.
- Canada Organic Regime Operating Manual
- Canada Organic Regime Operating Manual – Part C – Certification of Organic Product and CB Requirements
- Safe Foods for Canadians Act
- Safe Foods for Canadians Regulations
- Safe Foods for Canadians Regulations – Part 13 – Organic Products
Take the Next Step
Interested in learning more about OPAM membership?
Request a membership package, and you’ll be on your way to certifying your Organic operation.