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 the contiguous United States. PCO is also proud to be an accredited certifying agent for OPT Certified Grass-Fed Organic Certification, which is a separate program that builds upon the organic standards.
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. Currently, PCO certifies over 1600 operations, and can certify operations in the contiguous US!
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 30 staff and over 40 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.
Our collective efforts allow for progress among the greater organic community.