Become Certified Organic!
What is required to become certified organic?
You will find more detailed answers to this question in the below resource USDA Guide for Organic Production but first and foremost, your land must be free of any disallowed inputs for a minimum of 36 months. The 36 months leading up to the "Organic Certification" are what are called "transitional".
What cost are involved (both initial and ongoing)?
The cost will vary some between Certifying Agencies. It is usually based on the type of operation you have and acres. Processors are usually more than a simple crop production operation. Each Certifying Agency has its own fee schedule so you will need to find an Agency you can work with. I would expect (without knowing specifically) that it would cost about 1200.00 ANNUALLY. This is an annual fee. A significant portion may be reimbursed through the "Cost Share Program" which you will find in the resources section of Transitioning information page attached.
How long does the certification process take?
Once you have chosen an Agency, you will fill out your "Organic System Plan" and turn in with an application and all your supporting documentation. i.e. seed tags, purchase records, land use affidavit etc. and once it has been reviewed and approved for inspection, they will have an Inspector contact you and schedule your inspection. Once the inspection report is turned in and any non-compliance or issues of concern have been corrected, they will send your notice of your approval for Organic Certification. This process probably takes approximately 4-6 weeks depending on the workload of the agency at the time received. Some agencies offer an expedited option for an additional fee.
If an organic certifying agency does initial or annual inspections - WHO pays for that?
The initial and following annual inspections fees are the responsibility of the operator. You will pay a yearly fee.
If an operation has a total farm/operation income of less than $5000.00, they are exempt from having to be "Certified". All the same rules apply and they will operate accordingly with an "Organic System Plan" in place, keeping all the same records and information as if they were certified. They are not allowed to use the "USDA Organic" seal though and will not receive an official certificate.
Organic Certification Resources
MOA is not an organic certification agency, but we are glad to provide help and consulting to producers who are interested in becoming certified organic. Our team includes many people who have spent their entire lives in organic agriculture, and we even have an NOSB member on our Board of Directors.
Below are some helpful resource links for organic certification information: