What is Certified Organic

The definition of organic farming production is designated in a federal law known as the National Organic Program (NOP).  According to the NOP "Organic agriculture is an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity. It is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony".

Organic certification is verified by an independent third party entity on an annual basis.  This process ensures to the consumer that the operation is adhering to the strict and uniform requirement of the NOP.  For the consumer, this is validation that the farmer is producing in accordance with the NOP.

Following reflect a sampling of the requirements necessary for Organic Certification.

  • Inputs such as fertilizer, soil amendments, insecticides and herbicides must be natural, non-synthetic and approved for use in organic production.
  • Land that is organic may not have any non-approved inputs for three consecutive years prior to certification.
  • Planting stock including seeds and transplants must be certified organic.  All seeds and planting stock including cover crops must be certified organic, unless a certified organic source is not available, in that case only non- treated non GMO seeds may be used.  All annual transplants must be certified organic.  
  • If manure or manure containing material is not composted in accordance with the NOP it must be incorporated at a minimum or 90 to 120 days prior to harvest.
  • Adequate buffer areas must exist in consideration of drift from other operations.
  • All organic products must be washed, processed, packaged, stored and segregated from non-organic products.
  • Treated lumber is not allowed to be used in places where it will come in contact with soil, leach into the soil, or be unintentionally consumed by organic livestock.
  • Animals raised in accordance with the NOP must be raised organically for their entire life.  
  • Organic animals must be fed certified organic feed including hay.
  • Bedding material used for organic animals must be certified organic if the animal might consume it as feed.
  • Animals must have access to the outdoors.
  • Animals and meat products must be slaughtered and processed by a certified organic operation.
  • Production and sales information must be documented.
  • All activities must be documented and available with any necessary validation for inspection. 
Organic production is at minimum a three year commitment to the consumer that all aspects of the NOP have been followed.  
Operations may use or follow organic methods, but they are not organic unless they are certified or exempt. Operations exempt from certification must still provide supporting documentation to substantiate their claims if asked.
An operation is only Certified Organic if they can produce their certification and product verification from their certifying agency.




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