If you want to market your farm products as organic, you need USDA organic certification. You cannot just claim that your products are organic. You must have the seal of approval from the USDA. While the process to get certified is intensive and time-consuming, it can be well worth it in the end, as many consumers look for organic products to purchase.
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Find Out if You are Eligible
The first step is finding out if you are eligible for USDA organic certification. You’ll need an agent from the
National Organic Program for this step. In fact, this person will be your right-hand man throughout the entire process if you do decide to move forward with it. This agent is the person that will ultimately certify your product as organic after many months of hard work.
Before you can move forward, you need to know if the products you use are on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. This list lets you know which products you can use on your crops and which you cannot in order to be considered organic.
Once you know that your product is eligible for certification, it’s time to move on to the next step.
Proving Your Eligibility
Once you know you are eligible, it’s time to start the hard work. It starts with proving that the land you use for the crops is free from any of the prohibited substances in the
National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. You must also prove that the land has been free of these substances for at least 3 years.
Once you know that you are eligible, it’s time to start the application process.
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Applying for USDA Organic Certification
Once you choose an agent and prove your eligibility, it’s time to complete the application. You’ll do this with your agent who will then decide if you can move forward with the process.
Once your application is approved, the agent will have to schedule an inspection of your farm or site. This inspection is to inspect not only the land but also the product you intend to market as organic. The inspection is a way to evaluate that what you stated on your application is true. The inspector will need to see all aspects of the production process to make sure all steps meet the organic requirements.
Once the inspection is complete, the agent decides whether or not to certify your product as organic. Sometimes the agent is unable to certify you but will provide you with feedback regarding why he made this decision. If it is in regards to things that you can fix, you can fix the issues and go back to the agent again.
If you do get USDA organic certification, it can last indefinitely. The only way an agent would revoke your certification is if they suspect an issue with your production or product. You can also revoke the certification yourself if you feel it’s necessary.
The time it takes to get USDA organic certification depends on the circumstances. The process can go quickly or slowly, depending on how truthful you are on the application and how truly organic your product and the land really are. The costs also vary based on the product you market and the work necessary for the agent to do in order to certify you as organic.
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