Chapter 2

Organic Crop Certification

(book excerpts)

Organic certification verifies that your farm or handling facility located anywhere in the world complies with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations and allows you to sell, label, and represent your products as organic. These regulations describe the specific standards required for you to use the word “organic” or the USDA organic seal on food, feed, or fiber products. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) administers these regulations, and validated by an accredited certifying agency. These agencies include private for profit and non-profit agencies, as well as public state-run certifying agencies. The standards are dynamic, and minor revisions are ongoing through a transparent process involving public notification, public comment, and federal rulemaking. All producers, handlers and processors who are certified are required to be compliant with the specific sections of the Final Rule that apply to their operation. Certified organic crop production is more than a list of acceptable and prohibited inputs or practices that can and can not be used; rather, it is a holistic approach to sustainable and healthy food production that enhances the well-being of the consumer and protects natural resources.

Click on the following topics for more information on organic crop certification.

Within This Chapter: Organic Crop Certification

  • Introduction to Organic Crop Certification
  • The National Organic Program
  • Exemption from Organic Certification
  • Organic Equivalence Arrangements with Trading Partners
  • Understanding the National Organic Program Practice Standards
  • Transitioning to Organic Production
  • Regulatory Considerations
  • Prohibited and Approved Substances
  • Record Keeping
  • Transition Strategies
  • Gradual Transition
  • One Field at a Time
  • Whole Farm
  • Genetically Engineered Products
  • National Organic Program Policy
  • Traditional Plant Breeding Versus Genetic Engineering
  • Traditional Plant Breeding
  • Genetic Engineering (GE)
  • Benefits and Risks Associated with Genetic Engineering
  • Benefits
  • Risks
  • Best Management Practices in Preventing GMO Contamination
  • GMO Pollen Contamination of Organically Grown Crops
  • Organic Certification Agencies
  • The Role of the Certifying Agencies
  • Selecting a Certifying Agent
  • Certifier Agent’s Fees
  • The Organic Certification Process
  • Producer Submits an Application to a Certifying Agent
  • Application
  • Organic System Plan
  • Farm Map
  • Field Histories for New Fields and New Farms
  • Operator Agreement or Affirmation
  • Report of Organic Yields and Sales
  • Certifier Agent Reviews the Application
  • On-site Inspection
  • The Role of the Organic Inspector
  • Exit Interviews
  • Certifier Reviews the Inspection Report
  • Certification Decision
  • Renewing Certification – Annual Update
  • Organic System Plan
  • Components
  • Practices and Procedures to be Performed and Maintained
  • Materials List
  • Natural and Approved Synthetic Substances
  • Monitoring Techniques
  • Record Keeping
  • Organic Crop Producer Records
  • Split Production Records
  • Sources for Organic Recordkeeping Materials
  • Split Operations
  • Buffer Zones
  • Additional Information
  • Organic Labeling and Composition Requirements
  • Categories of Organic Content
  • 100 Percent Organic
  • Organic
  • Made with Organic (Specified Ingredients)
  • Contains Organic Ingredients - Less than 70% Organic Ingredients
  • References