What makes a farm organic?
As consumer, we hear and see the term organic all over the grocery store. The average shopper probably has a idea of what it means; natural farming processes, no pesticides, healthier, etc. But what does it actually mean? How do farms attain the organic moniker on their products, and how does benefit you, the consumer?
The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) is what set the national standards for organic products. When guidelines are followed, farms have the opportunity to be labeled Organic. What are those steps, you may ask? Let’s go over them now, so you can have a better understanding of how your the foods you eat
Plan Your Organic SystemJust what it sounds like, this is the producer’s plan to become, and stay, organc. All facets of production are laid out in detail, as well as a bird’s eye view of the whole operation. Details such as tilling practices, grazing, harvesting, fertilizing, storing, trapnsporting, are all written out in a comprehensive proposal. Also, plans on how to mitigate comingling with nonorganic materials, such as barriers, are also laid out.
Put The Plan To ActionImplement every aspect of your plan at your site. Make sure to follow the plan closely, and also have it certifies by a private, foreign, or state entity that is accredited by the USDA. These certified agents are tasked with making sure your plan is being followed.
Get An InspectionJust like it sounds, a certified inspector will be sent to your operation to make sure you plan has been put into action properly. Check everything from how materials are handled, stored, moved, and received. They will check soil/crop conditions, purchase records, feeds, health records, number or animals ( if applicable), and more.
Inspection Report ReviewOnce your inspector reports their findings to the certifying agent, they will pour over the details of the report. An inspector will create a risk of contamination from nonorganic materials, and could even test soil or product samples during this process. All contamination prevention protocls will me thoroughly reviewed as well.
Recieve Decision From Certifier Once the certifier’s criteria are met, a certificate will be issues listing exactly which products from an operation may be labeled as organic. Every year, the operation is required to keep records and update their plan as needed. Also every year, an inspection is completed once again to ensure protocols are being followed.
As you can see, achieving organic certification isn’t easy. Organic producers have to follow much more stringent guidelines to maintain their certifications than nonorganic farms do. In the end though, these farmers and producers see the benefit of bringing healthier produce to market, and are willing go the extra distance to make it happen.