PCO Forest Grown Verification

PCO Forest Grown Verification

PCO Verified Forest Grown

Introduction

The PCO Forest Grown Verification Program establishes a voluntary, third party verification for non-timber forest grown products that are produced and harvested in a sustainable and legal manner. The program standards currently apply to producers, harvesters, and handlers of American ginseng products from private forestland in the United States.

PCO hopes to increase the non-timber forest products verified under the program to include other botanical and fungal products based on market and conservation needs. It should be noted that the PCO Forest Grown Verification Program is a stand-alone program. Organic certification is not required in order to be eligible to apply.

The standards were developed by PCO through research of federal and state regulations, consultations with industry professionals, and information from scientific publications. PCO’s members also had an opportunity to provide comments and feedback prior to finalizing the standards.

Frequently Asked Questions:

○       Who is eligible to apply for verification?

Producers and harvesters of forest grown American ginseng operating on owned or leased, private forestland in the United States; and processors and handlers of American ginseng products verified under the PCO Forest Grown Verification Program.

○       Will my operation need to be inspected?

Yes. An initial on-site inspection to verify that your operation meets the PCO Forest Grown Standards will be conducted. Thereafter, your operation may need to be inspected annually. All production and harvest sites will be inspected. See Inspection Timing and Frequency section (pg. 10 in PCO Forest Grown Verification Program Manual) for additional information.

○       How much will it cost?

The cost of your initial year of verification includes an application fee and inspection fee.

See Verification Fee Schedule section (pg. 4 in PCO Forest Grown Verification Program Manual) for additional information.

○       How do I apply?

You must submit a completed Forest Grown System Plan, along with the application fee. See below for the manual and forms.

○       Once I am verified, do I need to renew my verification?

Yes, in order to maintain your verified status you must renew annually. The renewal process includes updating PCO of changes to your Forest Grown System Plan; paying the applicable renewal; and if necessary, undergoing an on-site inspection.

○       What happens if my operation does not comply with the PCO Forest Grown Standards or verification program requirements?

If your operation is not in compliance you will be given an opportunity to correct the noncompliance. If correction of the noncompliance is not possible, your application for verification will be denied, or your verified status may be revoked. Operations are given the opportunity to appeal PCO’s noncompliance decisions according to PCO’s appeals process.

○       What are the benefits of becoming verified under the PCO Forest Grown Verification Program?

Successful completion of the verification process means that your operation has been inspected and verified by PCO, an independent third-party certification agency, to meet the requirements of the PCO Forest Grown Standards. You will be issued a Certificate of Verification as evidence of your verified status. You may also claim that your product has been verified under the PCO Forest Grown Program by use of the applicable PCO Forest Grown seal on verified product labeling and marketing materials. See Use of Forest Grown Seal section (pg. 9 in PCO Forest Grown Verification Program Manual) for information regarding the use of the seals.

Cost Share

The Forest Grown Cost Share Program is a joint effort between United Plant Savers (UpS) and PCO to offset verification fees between for PCO Verified Forest Grown Production operations.  UpS has dedicated funds specifically for the program that will be administered by PCO, with the potential to continue the program on an annual basis.

Please note that cost share funds are limited, and are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Qualifications:

  • PCO Verified Forest Grown Operation

Cost Share Scope:

  • Application Fee for producer/harvester applications
  • Limit $200 per year per operation

The funds will not cover:

  • Sales assessment fees, inspection fees, or administrative fees for any new or existing operations
  • Any fees for processor operations

To apply:

  • Instructions on how to apply for the cost share are included with Forest Grown Verification application paperwork.

For More Information:

Contact Marissa Pyle (Certification Specialist)

Via email: marissa@paorganic.org

Via phone: (814) 422-0251