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, processors and handlers of the botanicals listed below, from private forest land in the United States:
a. American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)
b. Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis)
c. Black cohosh (Actaea racemosa)
d. Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)
e. Wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)
f. False-unicorn root (Chamaelirium luteum)
g. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)
h. Ramp or Wild leek (Allium tricoccum)
i. Wood geranium (Geranium maculatum)
j. Stoneroot (Collinsonia canadensis)
k. Solomon’s-seal (Polygonatum biflorum, P. pubescens)
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.
○ Who is eligible to apply for verification?
Producers and harvesters of forest grown botanicals operating on owned or leased, private forestland in the United States; and processors and handlers of these 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.
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