Chapter Guidelines and By-Laws:
The following guidelines are for the purpose of clarification of the OCIA International Certification Standards and Additions to the Standards and the National Organic Program (NOP) Standards. (Approved by the Board of Directors on November 30, 2022)
- Crop Rotation
- Two-Year Rotation
Maximum 50% of the rotation row crop and 50% small grain or fallow with fall cover crop / green manure plow-down. (Example: row crop, small grain or fallow with cover crop.)
- Three-Year Crop Rotation
Maximum of 2 successive row crops (i.e. corn & soybeans) is allowed. One-third of this rotation must be non-row crop such as small grain or fallow with cover crop/green manure plow-down. Cover crops are highly recommended between row crops.
- Four-Year Crop Rotation
Maximum of 3 successive row crops in a 4-year period is allowed. Cover crop/green manure plow-down is highly recommended between row crops. Remainder of this rotation must be non-row crop such as small grain or fallow with cover crop/green manure plow-down. (Example: corn-beans-corn-other or beans-corn-beans-other.)
- More than Four-Year Crop Rotation
Maximum of 3 successive row crops in a 5-year period is allowed. Cover crop/green manure plow-down is highly recommended between row crops. Remainder of this rotation must be non-row crop such as small grain or fallow with cover crop/green manure plow-down. [Inter-seeding in corn and beans (row crops) is highly recommended.]
- Mono Cropping
This is a restricted practice that requires prior written approval from CIA Intl, except for alfalfa, mixed hay, pasture, buckwheat or rye. Beans on beans or corn on corn are not allowed.
The Education Committee may consider variations from these rotation guidelines provided you meet the National Organic Program (NOP) Standard number 205.205. Rotation exceptions may be granted due to uncontrollable circumstances, such as wet fields, late frost, hail, etc. The exception must be requested and received in writing from OCIA Intl. prior to implementation.
The OCIA MN #1 Education Committee does not recommend planting beans on beans or corn on corn. Rotation decisions should be based on the four points as stated in the NOP standards 205.205 – Crop Rotation Practice.The producer must implement a crop rotation including but not limited to sod: cover crops, green manure crops, and catch crops that provide the following functions that are applicable to the operation:
- Maintain or improve organic matter content
- Provide for pest management in annual and perennial crops
- Manage deficient or excess plant nutrients
- Provide erosion control
*It is our understanding that the final planting decision is up to the producer and that the final certification decision is up to OCIA Intl Certification Decision Team (CDT).
(This statement adopted by the committee on April 11, 2006).
- Green Manure/Cover Crop
This can be a seeding of rye, vetch, clover, or something similar that is inter-seeded before harvest of the current crop or seeded after harvest. The cover crop must become established prior to incorporation.
- National Organic Program (NOP) Final Rule 205.203 Soil Fertility and Crop Nutrient Management Practice: The producer must manage crop nutrients and soil fertility through rotations, cover crops, and the application of plant and animal materials.
- Parallel Production
You must document parallel production from the seed for planting to the sale of the crop. Visually distinguishable varieties must be utilized to the maximum extent possible. Documentation must include but is not limited to: record of separate harvest, storage, quantity and sale of organic and conventional crop. Management plan must be maintained in Audit Trail and available at time of inspection. (OCIA Intl Certification Standards 2013, Section 2.2.4)
- As of 2004, an Integrity Visit is required when a producer requesting OCIA certification plants fields of organic and non-organic forms of the same crop that are not visually distinguishable.
- Not everyone seeks OCIA certification, and even fewer require an integrity visit. The requirement for an integrity visit is directed by the OCIA Standards. The cost of the integrity visit is the responsibility of the member seeking OCIA certification. This is not a requirement to certify to NOP Standards.
- Conversion PlanCertification to OCIA Standards requires a conversion plan with the third certification application. This plan must state how you will bring 100% of the land into transition within 5 years of the first certification of any portion of land you own or of whic you have long term operational control. Exceptions may be made on a case-by-case basis. (OCIA International Certification Standards 2013, Section 2.1. Admissibility). This is not a requirement to certify to NOP Standards.
- 2.1 All manure sources and management techniques must be clearly documented as part of the certification process, including rates and dates of application. Raw manure is considered a Restricted Material.
- 2.2 Any producer using liquid manure from an on or off farm source needs to supply a signed affidavit from the pit operator stating what, if any, additives have been used. If pit additives are used, you must obtain a label and submit it to the Chapter office. The Chapter will send the request on to OCIA Intl for approval before using liquid manure.
- 2.3 To avoid over application of liquid manure, test for nutrient value to insure proper rates are applied.
- 2.4 Composted and/or stock piled manures of at least three months are allowed. The National Organic Program (NOP) Final Rule #205.203, part c. (1) (ii) & (iii) – Raw animal manure must be composted unless it is incorporated into the soil not less than 120 days (four months) prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion has direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles or not less than 90 days prior to the harvest of a product whose edible portion does not have direct contact with the soil surface or soil particles.
- 2.5 It is recommended that soil temperature must be at least 10 degrees C (50 degrees F) or higher when raw manure is applied. OCIA International Standards 2013, Section 2.8.1.d.1, part 1. At application, the soil must be sufficiently warm (about 10 degrees C) and moist to ensure active microbial digestion. Exceptions can be made at the discretion of the Education Committee for animal-powered/ground-driven operations. This is not a requirement to certify to NOP Standards.
- NOP Standard 205.203 (c) (Not to be spread on frozen ground.) The producer must manage plant and animal materials to maintain or improve soil organic matter content in a manner that does not contribute to contamination of crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances.
- 2.6 Is there a restriction for using manure from conventional livestock being fed conventional (gmo) grain? Most of the commercial manure sources out there (from chicken houses, feedlots, etc.) are from animals eating GMO feed. Although there is currently no NOP restriction, the Chapter’s Education Committee cautions on taking care in using manure from commercial sources. It is required for the supplier to provide an affidavit stating that nothing prohibited has been added to the manure. (This statement approved by the Chapters Education Committee on November 7, 2016)
- 3.1 Conventional sprayer tanks may be used if they are cleaned out with an acceptable cleaner such as chlorine bleach, peroxide, acid cleaners, then rinsed three times. Cleaning and rinse solution must not be dumped on certified ground. The sprayer can then be used for organic. Sprayers cannot be switched back and forth between conventional and organic practices. You must request prior written approval from the Certification Committee before the use of a fiberglass tank.
- 3.2 Must maintain written documentation of cleaning equipment used for both organic and conventional production. (Example: planter, combine, augers, wagons, trucks, tillage equipment, etc.) Documentation must include date, equipment cleaned, method used and by whom. This must be maintained in audit trail.
- 3.3 If 100% organic production, document equipment as used for organic only. This includes all production, including any custom work. It would not include equipment used on buffer strips.
- 4.1 If flooding occurs, we recommend the producer notify the Chapter office. It may be required to harvest this area of the field separately due to the possibility of contamination from conventional run off.
- 5.1 Use of any GMO (genetically modified organism) / GEO (genetically engineered organism) derived products is prohibited. This includes inoculants. Naturally occurring microbes are allowed. GMO seed must not be planted on any land managed by the producer seeking certification through OCIA. This includes conventional, transitional and organic fields. Planting GMO seed will result in denial of certification. The producer must submit to the Chapter office a letter from the seed or inoculants supplier that verifies Non-GMO status for the seed variety or the inoculants product.
- 6.1 Prior to the use of any restricted material, the producer must obtain written approval from OCIA Intl. Submit an ingredient label of the material in question when seeking approval.
OCIA (MINNESOTA) BYLAWS
Introduction: These bylaws govern the operations of OCIA (Minnesota) and the relationship between OCIA-MN and its members.
- Article I: Purposes
Article II: Powers
- To provide organic crop improvement through professional development of organic farmers and processors, including technical assistance, educational information, publication, and research.
- To establish and maintain a farmer-owned and farmer-controlled organization providing impartial third-party certification as a prerequisite for trademark licensing of organic food at all stages of production, processing, and distribution.
- To guarantee the neutrality and integrity of an OCIA certified Organic trademark.
- To clarify and promote the image of organic products in the marketplace.
- To develop such programs and products, provide such benefits to members, and provide a forum for the discussion of such issues as the voting membership decrees.
- To promote the general welfare of organic farmers, organic agriculture and the organic foods industry.
Article III: Locations and Fiscal Year
- To exercise the powers normally granted to corporations under the corporation laws of the State of Minnesota.
Article IV: Membership
- OCIA-MN may have offices at such places as the Board may from time to time authorize. The fiscal year shall be the calendar year.
Article V: Levies
- Farmer: A person or group of persons whose primary occupations and principal activity consists of the production of food, feed, or fiber for commercial sale.
- Farmer/Processor: A farmer member who adds value to their production, by milling, packaging, blending, conditioning, manufacturing, drying or otherwise handling foodstuffs in a manner that they or their packaging are changed.
- Processor: A member who mills, packages, blends, conditions, manufactures, dries, or otherwise handles organic products.
- Supporting Members: Other interested persons or parties who promote and benefit from the OCIA name, logo, trademark, and activities.
- Code of Ethics:
- All members shall support NOP certification standards in the production, post- harvest handling, storage, transportation, processing, or promotion of food bearing the OCIA trademark.
- No certification documentation shall be used in the sake, marketing or promotion of any product or service unless the terms and conditions of the current OCIA license agreement are met.
- No member shall knowingly deal in products that are falsely labeled organic or represented as such, nor engage in any advertising that is false or misleading.
- All members shall cooperate in the development of the market for OCIA trademarked products and compete with each other in an honest and friendly fashion, at all times respecting the brand-neutral nature of the trademark.
- All members shall cooperate in the development of an organic food system which enhances life and health, is ecologically and economically sustainable and gives a fair return and dignity to its merchants, to its laborers and to the stewards of its living soul.
- Suspension or Expulsion: Any member may be suspended or expelled for a cause such as violation of these bylaws, refusal to comply with a decision of the Board, breach of the Code of Ethics, or failure to fulfill its obligations to OCIA-MN upon two-thirds vote of the Board. A statement of the charges shall be sent by registered mail to the last recorded address of the member not less than thirty nor more than fifty days before the action is to be taken. The member in question shall be given the opportunity to present a defense at the time and suspensions of expulsion and the reasons, therefore.
- Withdrawal: Any member may withdraw after fulfilling all its obligations to OCIA-MN by giving notice to the Secretary who shall present it to the Board at the first meeting following its receipt.
- Dues: The Board shall propose, and the general membership approve at the annual meeting the amount of dues payable for each category of membership. Dues shall be payable in U.S. currency or its equivalent to OCIA-MN before the 31st day of March in each fiscal year. Dues are paid on a calendar year basis with the exception that new members who join in the last quarter of the year shall have their dues considered as covering the entire period until the end of the next fiscal year. A member in default of these dues may be terminated by the Board after sixty days.
Article VI: Meetings
- The Board may implement such levies, fees, licensing agreements, etc., as are deemed appropriate. Such revenue shall support the administration of OCIA-MN, promotion of the trademark, the work of the certification review committee, crop improvement committee and any other program which the Board may approve. Levies and fees shall be payable in U.S. currency, or its equivalent, as billed according to the trademark license agreement, invoice or other instrument.
Article VII: Board
- Annual meetings of the general membership shall be held during the first quarter of ach fiscal year. Such meetings shall be for the selection of the Board, the receiving of annual reports and for the transaction of other business. Notice of annual meetings, signed by the Secretary, shall be mailed to the last recorded address of each member at least twenty and not more than forty days before the appointed time for the meeting. All such notices shall state the date, time, place, and agenda of the meeting. If conditions do not allow for a safe in-person AGMM, then an emergency remote AGMM is allowed, subject to a unanimous vote by the Board of Directors. This must be communicated to the membership at least 90 days in advance. When triggered, this supersedes the in-person requirement.
- Special meetings may be called by 30% of the Board, or through petition by 25% of the membership. Notice is to be given in the same manner as for the annual meeting. No business other than that specified in the notice shall be transacted at any special meeting of the general membership.
- Waiver - Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections a) and b), a meeting of the membership of OCIA-MN may be held any time and at any place, and any action may be taken there after, if notice is waived in writing by at least two-thirds of the membership votes.
- Voting - One member - one vote
- Proxies - Every member shall be entitled to vote at any meeting of OCIA-MN by proxy which may be assigned to another member or to a member of the Board. No member of OCIA-MN is allowed to hold the proxy of more than one other member. Unless the duration of the proxy is specified, it shall be invalid eleven months from its execution.
- Quorum - The presence in person or by proxy of a majority of the membership votes shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. In the case of lacking a majority and all efforts as heretofore having been made to solicit and encourage the membership to attend and there being business to conduct, business may be conducted as necessary by those attending.
The property, affairs, activities, and concerns of OCIA-MN are vested in the Board.
Article VIII: Committtees
- Composition - The Board shall consist of at least five but not more than nine members elected from the membership. At least two-thirds of the Board members shall be farmer or farmer/processor members. Term of office shall be two years, half of the board to be elected each year at the annual meeting.
- Duties - The Board may:
- Hold meetings at such times and places as it deems necessary.
- Develop and approve minimum standards for organic certification
- Appoint committees on any particular subject that comes from the Board, general membership of the industry.
- Audit bills and disburse the funds of OCIA-MN.
- Print and circulate documents of published articles.
- Carry on correspondence in the name of OCIA-MN and communicate with others interested in the organic foods industry.
- Employ agents.
- Devise and execute such other measures as it deems appropriate to promote the goals of OCIA-MN and the best interests of its members.
- Officers and their duties - Officers are to be elected from the Board as follows:
- President shall preside at meetings of the Board and the general membership, and to perform other such duties as are necessarily incident to the office.
- Vice-President shall substitute for the President when necessary due to absence or incapacity.
- Secretary shall give all notices, keep a record of all meetings conduct all correspondence and carry into execution all orders and resolutions not otherwise committed.
- Treasurer shall oversee the daily financial activities and approve and sign all disbursements.
- The offices and duties of Secretary and Treasurer may be shared with each other or the Vice President
- Other positions may be created or delegated by action of the Board.
- Vacancies shall be filled without undue delay.
- Member of the Board without a specific office shall perform such duties as will aid the officers in the performance of their work.
- Compensation - The Board officers may receive such compensation as the Board determines.
- Chapter Administrator shall sit as an ex-officio member of the board and be responsible for the day-to-day administration of OCIA-MN offices and programs as mandated by the Board.
- Execution of Documents: The President of OCIA-MN may sign deeds, bonds, mortgages, leases, contracts, note releases, discharge, and other paper on behalf of the Corporation when directed by the Board except when state and federal law requires the signature of some other officer or agent.
Article IX: Amendments
- Standing Committees; The Board shall appoint committees for Education, Crop Improvement, Promotion, and any other committees deemed applicable and present them with their mandates. Committee members hold office until their successors are appointed. Each committee shall appoint a chairperson. Any committee chairperson cannot be an officer of the Board of Directors of this Chapter. (Revised at 1-16-09 Annual Meeting)
- Special Committees: Special Committees (ad hoc, etc.) may at any time be appointed by the President when deemed appropriate to the efficient/conduct of OCIA-MN
- Quorum: A majority of any committee shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of the business.
Article X: Disclosure and Confidentiality
- On the basis of written submissions, the bylaws may be amended, repealed or altered in whole or impart by a majority vote at any duly organized meeting of the general membership or by postal vote.
- Proposed changes, except for minor alterations in grammar or word order for clarity, shall be mailed to the last recorded address of each member of OCIA-MN at least twenty and not more than forty days before the time of the meeting which will consider such changes.
- Notwithstanding Section b) of this article, minor amendments which do not fundamentally alter the nature of the association may be proposed in writing and voted upon at a duly organized meeting of the general membership which was already considering amendments proposed under Section b).
Article XI: Varia
- A copy of all general business records and correspondence shall be kept at the principal office of the association and be made available to all members at reasonable times.
- Specific business records and correspondence of a commercially sensitive nature (details of fees, letters relating to one company or person, etc) shall be kept in confidence except under the terms of Section 4e) or when the Board has received written permission from the person(s) involved to release the information.
- Non-discrimination Policy: Opportunity of employment by OCIA-MN and participation in its programs is open to all qualified individuals without regard to race, gender, national origin etc.
- Certification: Eligibility for certification and the rights conferred thereby is limited to members and non-members who are in compliance with OCIA Certification Standards.