Chapter 3

Approved Materials for Organic Farming

(book excerpts)

Agriculture, whether it is considered sustainable, conventional, organic or otherwise, requires material inputs to some degree on almost every farm. Materials that are used to produce and handle organic crops under the USDA’s National Organic Program must be selected for compliance and used in the context of organic principles for farming and handling practices. Materials are often referred to as “inputs” or “allowed substances” and these can range from soil amendments to seeds and seed treatments as well as production aids like surfactants. The organic standards regulate what types of materials, methods and ingredients can and cannot be used on operations that are certified organic. The standards attempt to identify the substances, methods and ingredients prohibited in organic production and handling as a way to further uphold the integrity of organic production and handling systems. Materials are relevant in multiple locations within the standards and it is important to be able to identify these standards and understand their meaning. Certified organic producers and handlers must use only materials that are approved for use according to the standards to which they will be certified. Use without pre-approval could lead to suspension or denial of certification of the affected land and/or products depending on the nature of the product and the use. Prior to using any material, certified operations must include in their Organic System Plan a list of all materials they use or plan to use, which is approved by their organic certifier.

Click on the following topics for more information on approved materials for organic farming.

Topics Within This Chapter:

  • The National List
  • Allowed and Prohibited Substances
  • Allowed Synthetic Materials
  • Inert Ingredients
  • Restrictions in Using Approved Substances
  • Organic System Plan
  • Amendments to the National List
  • Accredited Certifying Agents
  • Brand Name Materials Lists
  • Organic Materials Review Institute
  • Organic Materials Review Institute List
  • Determining Compliance of Materials
  • Products with Multiple Reviews
  • Federal and State Product Labeling
  • References