Organic Certification:Non-timber Forest Products

Organic Status
The word 'organic' is defined by law.  It is unlawful to label a product organic if it is not certified by an approved organic control body.  EU law applies to the production, processing, labelling and control of organic produce and certification is available to producers, processers and distributors. Organic production severely limits the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides in production processes. This can apply to orchard products such as fruit and nuts, and to other non-timber forest products including those intended for medicinal and health & beauty related purposes.  Certified products are increasingly in demand and can attract a premium compared with non-certified products.

Applying for Organic Certification
Anyone in the EU wishing to having their produce certified as organic must be registered with an approved organic control body which will then enable you to apply for organic status.  When choosing a control body to apply to it is important to investigate the standards that they require as although they cannot be less demanding than standards set by the EU, they can be more demanding.  You must ensure that you will be able to comply with the required standards.

DEFRA is responsible for organic farming regulations in the UK and licenses and controls all organic control bodies.  There is a list of all approved control bodies on their website which can be found by following this link.

Inspection of your Operation
Once you have applied to register with a control body and paid the required fee, an inital inspection of your operation will be arranged.  Following this insection you will be issued with a Compliance Notice.  This will prescribe any actions and improvements needed to reach the control body's standards.  You must study the compicance notice to ensure that you are able to carry out these actions, and then sign and return it to the control body.  After carrying out these actions a second inspection may be arranged.

If the inspector doesn't identify any actions that need to be carried out, then the compliance notice will be used to inform you of the favourable decision.  In this case you will not need to sign and return the notice.

Conversion
Once your operation has been registerd it will be considered as being 'in conversion', and you will receive a Certificate of Conversion.  You should keep a copy of your Certificate of Compliance for customers to see if they request it.  During the first year of conversion you must sell your products as 'non-organic'.  Those harvested after the first year may be sold as 'produced under conversion to organic farming'.  You can not label your produce as 'organic' until the conversion process is complete, which can take upwards of two years.

Funding
Funding for organic farming can be obtained through the Organic Entry Level Stewardship provided by Natural England.  For more information please follow this link to the Natural England website.

For more information on organic certification and for links to organic control bodies, please follow this link to the business link website.