Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #227640

Title: So you're interested in organic certification

item Webber Iii, Charles
item Davis, Angela

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2008
Publication Date: 10/5/2008
Citation: Webber III, C.L., Shrefler, J.W., Taylor, M.J., Roberts, W., Davis, A.R. 2008. So you're interested in organic certification [abstract]. Geological Society of America, Soil Science Society of America, American Society of Agronomy, Crop Science Society of America, and the Gulf Coast Association of Geological Societies Joint Meeting, October 5-9, 2008, Houston, Texas. 706:6.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Organic certification was developed in recognition of the necessity for consistent standards across the U.S. for the benefit of producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers. Prior to establishment of federal guidelines for organic certification in 2002, a multitude of agencies and associations throughout the U.S. maintained a divergent list of acceptable inputs, production methods, and policies to determine organic certification. Differences in the certification standards invited marketing inconsistencies, misunderstandings, and misrepresentations concerning organic products. Organic certification now sanctions the marketing of "USDA Organic" products produced under consistent guidelines and standards across the U.S. A prospective organic producer selects a certification agency that serves their area. Certification agencies may be private businesses or state government entities, and their geographic areas may overlap. When considering certifying agencies, it is advisable for the producer to consider their marketing options and any preferences that may exist by potential buyers. All organic land must be treated organically for 3 years prior to harvesting a certified organic crop. The producer can contact a certifying agency at the beginning of the three year transitional period or as late as the beginning of the third year. The selected certification agency will supply the producer with the application forms, production standards, and certification requirements. Information required in the application packet will include a field history and map, details about the bordering land, plans for controlling pests, maintaining soil quality, production plans and inputs, crop harvest and storage. Once certified, the producer is subject to annual reports and on-site inspections. Certified organic crop production is more than a list of do's and don'ts, acceptable and prohibited inputs or practices, but a holistic approach to sustainable and healthy food production to enhance the well being of the consumer, while protecting natural resources during the process.