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Organic Certification 101
Transcript of Organic Certification 101
agriculture, environmental care, and ethical trade
for the products we certify to the world market
to assist our clients with their certification requirements
of the organic certification process
How do I get certified?
Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA)
The Organic Food Production Act of 1990 required that the USDA develop national standards for organic products.
National Organic Program
In 1992, USDA establishes the National Organic Program and appoints National Organic Standards Board
NOP Publishes Final Rule
NOP Organic Regulations
USDA organic regulations “go live” (are fully implemented) on October 21, 2002.
Where we are today
As of the end of 2012, 17,750 organic farms and processing facilities in the United States were certified to the USDA organic regulations, fueling a $31.4 billion U.S. organic industry!
That’s approximately a 240 percent increase since NOP’s tracking began in 2002.
Worldwide, there are now over 28,000 certified organic operators across 133 countries.
History of Organic Certification in the USA
What is Organic?
managed to respond to site-specific conditions
integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices to foster cycling of resources
promote ecological balance
and conserve biodiversity
§205.103 Record keeping
Fully disclose all activities and transactions of the certified operation in sufficient detail to be readily understood and audited.
Organic System Plan
Management practices and procedures
Record keeping system
List of inputs in use
QCS Application = OSP
§205.202 Land requirements
Managed organically per regulations.
Have had no prohibited substances applied to it for a period of 3 years.
Have distinct, defined boundaries and buffer zones to prevent unintended application of prohibited substances.
§205.203 Soil Fertility and Nutrient Management
Tillage and cultivation practices that maintain or improve structure of soil, organic matter, and minimize erosion
Crop rotations, cover crops, and application of plant and animal materials.
Does not contaminate crops, soil, or water by plant nutrients, pathogenic organisms, heavy metals, or residues of prohibited substances.
e.g. purchase invoices, field activity records, input application, spray records, planting records, harvest, and sales records.
NOP publishes Final Rule in Federal Register in 2000, establishing national organic standards. Rule is effective 60 days after publication and is fully implemented 18 months after effective date.
Managed by everything else
Rotations, cover crops, diversity, attracting beneficials
Limited use of OMRI approved products
Bt for cabbage worms
Insecticidal Soap for aphids
Hand picking and trap cropping
What are the problem weeds?
Plastic mulch must be removed at season's end
Natural materials decompose to improve soil
Rotations and crop timing
How do you confront challenges?
Evaluation of all areas
Sod, cover crops, green manure crops, and catch crops that...
maintain or improve soil organic matter
provide for pest management in annual and perennial crops
manage deficient or excess nutrients
provide erosion control
§205.205 Crop Rotation
"A planned pattern or sequence in successive crop years so that crops of the same species or family are not grown repeatedly without interruption in the same field”
Perennial cropping systems employ alley cropping, intercropping, and hedgerows…in lieu of crop rotation
Non-organic untreated seeds and planting stock may be used when an equivalent variety is not commercially available.
Organic seed must be used to produce edible sprouts.
Annual seedlings must be organic- unless a temporary variance is granted.
Non-organic perennial planting stock may be planted but must be managed organically for one year before it can be represented, labeled, and sold as organic.
§205.204 Seeds and Planting stock
Sewage sludge is prohibited!
No new installations of treated lumber
§205.601 Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production
§205.602 Nonsynthetic substances prohibited for use in organic crop production
Always contact your certifier to approve inputs!
What Fertility or Pest Control Input Can I Use?
What's the Cost?
Start with healthy crops
Keep a clean greenhouse
Rotations break up disease cycles
Good drainage and air flow
Proper fertility management
Keep up with developments in control
Processing & Handling
Marketing Your Products...
that combines plant and animal materials with an initial C:N ratio between 25:1 and 40:1
Static pile: between 131F and 170F for 3 days
Windrow: 131F and 170F for 15 days, turned at least 5 times
A managed process…
Soil contact: 120 days before harvest
No direct soil contact: 90 days before harvest
Uncomposted plant materials lack these requirements
Vegetable based ‘mulch’ doesn’t need composting
Use a regular formula of ingredients
Keep records and take temperatures
Animal Manure Usage
Compost and manure use
‘Compost’ refers to specific process
Non-manure sources OK without composting
Water quality and sources
Soil and Crop Fertility Management
Monitoring of fertility:
Observation of soil and plant
OMRI listed fertilizer
Decomposed mulch: brewery grains
Soil and Crop Fertility Management
Cover crops, compost, animal products
Ground rock: lime, phosphate, greensand, etc.
Rotations, legumes, contour plowing, etc.
Soil and Crop Fertility Management
The hardest and best aspect of certification
Seed order records
Planning changed to record of season
Daily diary of what’s done
Land preparation and pest/weed control
Planting and fertilization
Harvest: where and how much
Planning turns to records
Revise seed order plans to actual orders
Record plantings on planning sheets
Keep good business records
Receipts from seed and fertilizer companies
Sales records: invoices and CSA lists
Harvest and preparation
Containers used--new, source verified
Storage of crop including pest control
Transportation and marketing
Dedicated vehicle, or document cleaning
Adjoining Land Use
Buffer zones of forest and grass strips
Neighbor’s policies of pesticide use
Split operations can raise conventional crops
Prevent commingling of products and tools
Maintaining Organic Integrity
A Production System...
Made with Organic
All ingredients and processing aids must be certified organic.
All agricultural ingredients must be certified organic.
Non-organic ingredients allowed per National List up to a combined total of 5% of non-organic content (excluding salt & water).
At least 70 percent of the product must be certified organic ingredients (excluding salt & water).
OMRI listings at
National Organic Program at
Appropriate Technology Transfer to Rural Areas
Quality Certification Services
Florida Organic Growers
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
Covers 75% of Certification Costs up to $750!
Must be organic...
Organic in the 1980s
There was uniform definition of organic. Thus, individual states passed laws regarding organic food.
In Florida, this was the "Florida Organic Farming and Food Law" passed in 1989.
Retailers were demanding organic certification from 3rd party certification agencies.
However, each certification body had it's own organic standards which differed from others making it difficult for retailers, processors, and handlers of organic products to market their products.
Consumers want food grown without synthetic chemicals. They want "organic food" but it's not clear as to what "organic food" really is.
A uniform definition was thus developed. And the 1990s began the journey to national organic certification.
Must be managed organically from last third period of gestation for meat production
Poultry must be managed from 2nd day of life.
§205.236 Origin of Livestock
Monitoring is most important!
Year round living conditions that support health and the natural behaviors of animals...
Year round access for all animals to
Shade and shelter
Note animals may be temporarily denied access to the outdoors but reasons must be documented.
Suitable to stage of life and environment.
§205.239 Living conditions
Preventative health care practices such as
Breed suitability and disease/parasite resistance
Nutrition, sanitation, appropriate housing
Vaccines are allowed
Antibiotics are prohibited
Restrictions on use of parasiticides in dairy animals.
Not allowed for meat or poultry
§205.238 Livestock Health Care
Pasture = crop
Minimize disease and parasites
Stocking density, size of pastures, type
(annual or perennial)
e.g. mob grazing and MIG grazing
§205.240 Pasture Practice
Must implement a crop rotation plan!
§205.237 All feed must be grown on certified organic land or purchased certified organic.
Conventional dairy herd can be transitioned into organic after being managed for one year on certified organic pasture.
(Additions to herds must be from on-farm breeding or buying certified animals.)
Ruminants 30% of DMI must come from rooted pasture, 70% from certified hay, silage, or grain. Pasture grazing must be at least 120 days per year minimum
(dependent on geographical location.)
*This data is from the OTA 2011 Survey Report
§205.206 Crop Pest, Weed, and Disease