How to Become Certified Organic
Federal regulations provide detailed requirements for the farm production methods and products that can be used when farmers and food manufacturers wish to label their products “certified organic”. The regulations were finalized in 2002 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as part of its responsibilities under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.
The steps to becoming certified organic are to:
- Become familiar with the regulations.
- Determine if you qualify to become certified organic now or if you must plan for transition over the next several years.
- Locate and contact an organic certification organization and apply for certification.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program provides the federal regulations on line. A paper copy can also be obtained from certification organizations or from your local library.
Who Must Be Certified
Anyone producing over $5,000 of product that wishes to label and sell their farm or commercial product as “organic” must be certified. Farmers and food processors must both be certified, as must distributors involved in repackaging. Producers with under $5,000 per year in gross sales must also be familiar with the federal regulations and keep records, but do not need to become certified unless they wish to sell their product to be used and identified as an ingredient in a certified organic processed food product. Retail establishments, such as grocery stores, need not be certified, but must follow the regulations for source documentation, prevention of co-mingling with non-organic product, storage and in-store labeling.
Read on at Source: New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets