To ensure the integrity of organic products and provide education, inspection, and certification services that meet the needs of our members. PCO provides services to operations based in Pennsylvania, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
Pennsylvania Certified Organic (PCO) is a USDA-accredited organic certifying agency that educates and certifies growers, processors and handlers of organic crops, wild crops, livestock and livestock products in Pennsylvania and adjoining states.
Maintain an organic certification program to educate members on the requirements for producing products in accordance with applicable laws:
In 1985, a group of organic farmers in the Lancaster County area formed a Pennsylvania chapter of the Organic Crop Improvement Association. The Pennsylvania chapter performed certification services for its members for about 15 years. In 1997, believing that a Pennsylvania-based organization would better serve the needs of our state’s organic community, some chapters members incorporated as a non-profit 501 (c)(3) organization named Pennsylvania Certified Organic.
PCO started out with 27 members and by the end of that first year had certified 54 crops and livestock farms. In 1998 the organization expanded to include dairy. Over the years, PCO added certification services for processing, handling, distribution, brokering, mushrooms, maple products, poultry and more. In 2004, PCO certified about 315 operations based in Pennsylvania. That same year it decided to offer certification services to operations in adjoining states, including Ohio, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and West Virginia. By 2010, PCO certified 525 operations and 117 contracted operations and expanded to serve Washington D.C., Virginia and North Carolina.
PCO’s office is located in Spring Mills, Pennsylvania in Centre County. Since 1997, PCO’s certification team has grown from one employee to its’ current size of 17 staff and 22 inspectors. In one way or another, all are connected to organic production: some are organic farmers or have worked on a farm, some are trained organic inspectors, and some have an academic background in agriculture.