Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00002676/00001
 Material Information
Title: USDA Organic Certification: Who Should Be Certified?
Physical Description: Fact sheet
Creator: Ferguson, James J.
Publisher: University of Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agriculture Sciences, EDIS
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2004
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Melanie Mercer.
Publication Status: Published
General Note: "Publication date: March 2004."
General Note: "HS970"
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida Institutional Repository
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the submitter.
System ID: IR00002676:00001

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HS970 USDA Organic Certification: Who Should Be Certified?1 James J. Ferguson2 1. This document is HS970, one of a series of the Horticultural Sciences Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida. Publication date: March 2004. Please visit the EDIS Web site at http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu. 2. James J. Ferguson, professor, Horticultural Sciences Department, Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville, 32611. The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A. & M. University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Larry Arrington, Dean According to The National Organic Program (NOP) any farm, wild crop harvesting, or handling operation (processors and manufacturers) that wants to sell an agricultural product as organically produced must adhere to the national organic standards. This means that USDA certified organic farmers and handlers3 must have an organic system plan approved by an accredited certifying agent and use materials in accordance with the National List of Allowed Synthetic and Prohibited Nonsynthetic substances. NOP regulations about exemptions and exclusions from certification can be found on the NOP Web site, section 205.101 at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/NOP/standards.html. Certification Required Organic certification is required for some organic operations but not others, depending on gross annual income, type of organic product, how it is handled or repackaged, and how it is labeled. For example, organic certification is required for either entire operations (farms, packing houses, processing plants, etc.) or parts of these operations that produce or handle organic agricultural products. These products can be labeled as percent organic (contains only organically produced ingredients, excluding water and salt), organic," (made with at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients, excluding water and salt), or made with organic ingredients (containing at least 70 percent organic ingredients along with up to three of the organic ingredients or food groups listed on the principal panel). Processed products containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients cannot use the term organic other than to identify the specific ingredients that are organically produced in the ingredients statements. Certified organic operations can produce or handle products with any of the above three designations but an exempt operation as discussed below can produce or handle products that are labeled only as organic or made with organic ingredients. Furthermore, certified organic operations can use the USDA Organic seal on % Organic and "Organic but exempt operations cannot use the USDA seal on their products. Certification Not Required (Exempt or Excluded Operations) Certification is not required for farms and handling operations (packing houses, processing plants) whose gross annual income from organic sales totals $5,000 or less annually. This exemption is designed primarily for those producers


USDA Organic Certification: Who Should Be Certified? 2 who market their product directly to consumers and to retail establishments. Such operations do not have to submit an organic system plan but must comply with national organic standards, maintain production and handling records for three years beyond their creation, and allow access and inspection by applicable State organic officials. Furthermore, these exempt organizations can label their processed, multi-ingredient products as organic but cannot do so if the products of these exempt organizations are processed by others. For example, a small citrus grower who follows the NOP rules and who has less than $5,000 annual income from organic produce cannot sell his fruit to a certified organic citrus packing house or processing plant as organic fruit. However, if he had his own packing line or processing facility, he could pack or process his own fruit as organic. Other groups that do not have to be certified include: 1. handlers3 and final retailers that do not process or repackage organic products, 2. handlers that handle only products with less than 70 percent organic ingredients 3. a retail food establishment, independent or part of another operation, that processes or prepares on the premises raw and ready-to-eat food labeled organic 4. a handling operation that uses the word organic only on the information panel. Additional Notes: 3. Handler: Any operation or portion of an operation (except final retailers of agricultural products that do not process agricultural products) that receives or otherwise acquires agricultural products and processes, packages, or stores such products. However this does not include the sale, transportation, or delivery of crops or livestock by the producer to the handler. USDA National Organic Program Definition