PACS Response Plan Update - COVID-19 Virus Pandemic

March 24, 2020

Dear PACS Operators and Interested Parties:

The Pacific Agricultural Certification Society (PACS) Executive Director, Board Executives, Certification Committee, and PACS Administrative Staff are meeting regularly to develop and implement strategic plans for response during, and following, the COVID-19 Virus Pandemic. 

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a global issue impacting individuals and businesses around the world. Rest assured, PACS is monitoring all recommendations and updates from government officials surrounding COVID-19 and we will inform our clients and interested parties of relevant changes as they become available. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, PACS is taking strategic health measures for preventative action. Know we are taking added precautions to keep our Operators, Verification Officers and Employees safe. This is our number one priority.

This is the third in a series of communications to keep you informed on measures taken to ensure continuity of service and your certification status during, and following, this difficult period.  We are currently in discussion with regulatory authorities in Canada and British Columbia, addressing potential impacts and steps which may be taken to mitigate. For now, we can provide you with the following information: 

PACS Functionality Update:

We would like to reassure our Operators and new clients that the PACS office will continue to operate in full capacity: Monday – Friday 8:00am to 4:00pm.

In consideration of the current situation, PACS’ physical office is closed to public access for your protection and that of our staff. We will have limited phone answering availability. Therefore, if you receive our voice mail, please leave a detailed message. For a prompt response we encourage everyone to send an email.

We remain working in full capacity to serve our valuable Operators. We will continue to provide you with service in the completion of your certificate and all other certification requirements, to ensure your documentation remains valid in order to safeguard your product distribution.

Arrangements are in place to continue prompt service via electronic access to our administration staff and the certification team.  As the COVID-19 response develops, we have taken proactive measures for our staff to self-isolate and work remotely.

To avoid possible delays in response, we are strongly encouraging clients to submit any required paperwork, applications or payments electronically.  At this time, mail, couriers and other physical deliveries continue to be received, but continuity of such services in the coming weeks is out of our control.

Please forward electronic documents in a Word format or as a PDF to ensure our access.  Electronic payments may be made via our secure online portal. Contact the PACS office if you don’t have this information on hand.

IMPORTANT: Certificate Status

We wish to remind you that products certified under the Canada Organic Regime (COR) and PACS-Compliant Certification programs (Natural Health, Cannabis, etc.) they are non-expiring certificates.

COR certified operators with an Attestation of Compliance, or Section 348 Certificate (for contract Packaging and Labelling), as well as certificates issued under the BCCO program, do bear expiring certificates.

We are receiving updates frequently from our Accreditors for these certification programs.  Right now, we understand that certification can be maintained; however some continued diligence by PACS and our Operators will be required to do so.  Certification applications and updates/changes to Operators’ Plans must still be reported as normal to PACS. We will provide further information as we are informed and as any changes develop. 

In this uncertain time, we remain committed to working with you to minimize the impact on your organic certification.

Renewals: STATUS: Business as usual: Please continue to submit your renewal (forms and fees) at your scheduled time. This will ensure that we can process your information and be ready when we commence on-site inspections again. This will allow PACS to manage the workflow and avoid overloading the system when things return to normal.

Renewals: For forms and information about renewal requirements, visit our website at: Renewals (Existing Members)  

New Registrations and Transfers: For initial registration forms, documentation requirements, and information for new members, visit our website at: Register and Transfers (New Members)

File Reviews and Operator inquiries: STATUS: Business as usual: All of our staff, including the Certification Reviewers, will continue to review files, respond to emails and inquiries, and may reach out to Operators from time to time for further information as per normal business practice. Our quality, performance and dedication to our highly valued operators will continue.

General Inquires: Contact the PACS office

Input Approval Request: Visit our website at: Input Inquiry Form or submit all required information by email to the Certification Committee.

On-site Inspections: STATUS: Effective March 19, 2020, PACS will postpone all 2020 inspections for all operations until further notice. Additional changes/updates are expected, including, but not limited to, rescheduled dates and alternative practices/methods of inspection. These are to be determined as we acquire more information over the coming weeks.

This means all scheduled on-site inspections have been put on hold until such time as the risk to Operators, Verification Officers and Staff has diminished.  As mentioned above, we are investigating possible alternative practices/methods of inspections such as virtual inspections or audits that can be conducted remotely. Once we have more guidance from the CFIA and our Accreditation Board (AB) as to their expectations, we will provide additional updates.

In anticipation of what appears to be some trying times ahead, we would like to thank our Operators for your patience and understanding during this time. PACS will ensure that all Operators are informed as the situation evolves.

PACS would like to take this opportunity to express, wholeheartedly, our concerns to all who have been directly, or indirectly, affected by COVID-19. Once again, PACS’ top priority is the health and safety of our Operators, Staff and Verification Officers in these uncertain times.

Our thoughts are with all of you, as we know this virus impacts each of us on various levels. We appreciate your patience at this unusual time and wish you good health.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact the PACS office.

 

Kindest regards,

_________________________

Verna Wagner

Executive Director

PACS Certified Organic

 

How Can I Get Certified:

Visit our How to Get Certified page and follow the step-by-step process to guide your path to successful organic certification.

Who PACS Certifies:

PACS certifies Canadian enterprises in the following industries: organic crop production, organic livestock production, organic greenhouse, sprouts & microgreen production, organic food & beverage production, organic cannabis production, organic and wild-harvested mushrooms, wild-harvest certification, maple and birch production, natural and agricultural health products. Follow PACS Step-by-Step Guide to Organic Certification.

Our Programs:

PACS certifies to the Canada Organic Regime (COR) for national and international export of products as well as to the Certified Organic Associations of BC (COABC) for certification within the clients province. PACS has an in-house certification program for agricultural health products as well as the Transition to Organic program. Read more about PACS Organic Certification Programs.