The PCO 100% Grassfed certification program establishes an optional additional certification scope for operations that are certified organic under the USDA National Organic Program regulations. The program standards apply to producers of ruminant livestock and to handlers of meat and dairy products derived from ruminant livestock.
PCO developed the PCO 100% Grassfed certification program in response to membership interest in third-party verification of food products that are sourced from pasture. Throughout the development process, every effort was made to assure the quality and integrity of the standard. The standards were developed by the PCO Standards Committee through research of existing private certification programs, consultations with industry professionals, and information from scientific publications. Members also had an opportunity to provide comments and feedback prior to finalizing the standard.
Frequently Asked Questions:
○ Who is eligible to apply for the PCO 100% Grassfed Certification Program?
Operations currently certified or applying for organic certification under the USDA National Organic Program.
○ What types of operations can be certified under the PCO 100% Grassfed Certification Program?
All producers of ruminant livestock and handlers of meat and dairy products derived from ruminants.
○ Will my operation need to be inspected in order to be certified under the PCO 100% Grassfed Certification Program?
Yes. The on-site inspection to verify that your operation meets the PCO 100% Grassfed Standards will be conducted annually. Operations that are certified organic by PCO may have their grassfed inspection conducted in conjunction with your organic inspection.
○ How much will it cost?
You will be charged an additional certification program fee annually, along with the additional time the inspector will spend during your organic inspection to verify that your operation meets the requirements of the PCO 100% Grassfed Certification Program. See the current See current PCO Fee Schedule.
○ How do I apply?
Contact PCO to request an application form specific to your type of operation. Submit the completed form, along with the certification fee, to PCO.
○ Once I am certified, how often do I need to renew my certification?
In order to maintain your certification, it must be renewed annually. The renewal process includes updating PCO of changes to your Grassfed System Plan and paying the annual certification fee.
○ What happens if my operation does not comply with the PCO 100% Grassfed Standards or certification 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 certification will be denied, or your certification may be suspended or revoked. Operations are given the opportunity to appeal PCO’s noncompliance decisions according to PCO’s appeals process. Operators certified under the PCO 100% Grassfed certification program must first comply with all the requirements of the USDA’s National Organic Program in order to be considered compliant under the PCO 100% Grassfed certification program.
○ Can I contract production and/or processing of my 100% Grassfed product to another certified organic operation even though it is not certified by PCO?
Yes, as long as the contracted operation is inspected and approved by PCO. See Certification Program Policies section in the PCO 100% Grassfed Certification Manual below for additional information. A supplementary form must be completed for each contracted operation and submitted, along with the additional certification fee, to PCO.
○ What are the benefits of becoming certified under the PCO 100% Grassfed Certification Program?
Successful completion of the certification 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 100% Grassfed Standards. Your certified product can claim that it is certified under the PCO 100% Grassfed Certification Program, and you may also use the PCO 100% Grassfed Certification seal on certified product labeling and marketing materials.
Complete the PCO Information Request Form if you are a new applicant.
If you are currently certified organic, please contact your certification specialist to add Grassfed certification to your existing operation.