[Market-farming] "organic"

guyclark at fertilecrescentfarms.com guyclark at fertilecrescentfarms.com
Tue Jul 24 10:24:13 EDT 2007


Here is what the National Organic Program FAQ page says about this: 

Q:  When must organic producers and handlers be certified to continue to
market their product as organic?

A:  Beginning on October 21, 2002, producers and handlers must be
certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent to sell, label, or
represent their products as "100 percent organic," "organic," or "made
with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)." Please see
section 205.101 for exemptions from certification.

Q:  I am a small farmer. Will I have to be certified?

A:  It depends. If your gross agricultural income from organic sales
total $5,000 or less annually, you are exempt from certification (see
section 205.101(a)(1) of the NOP regulations). Exempt operations must
comply with the applicable requirements of subpart C and the labeling
requirements at section 205.310 of the NOP regulations.

Q:  I am a small processor. Do I have to be certified?  

A:  It depends. If your gross agricultural income from organic sales
total $5,000 or less annually, you are exempt from certification (see
section 205.101(a)(1) of the NOP regulations). Exempt operations must
comply with the applicable requirements of subpart C and the labeling
requirements at section 205.310 of the NOP regulations.  For other
possible handler exemptions see section 205.101 of the NOP regulations.

Q:  I sell less than $5,000 worth of organic product. Can I be
certified?

A:  Yes. Any qualified agricultural production or handling operation may
be certified as an organic production and handling operation. This
includes all qualified production and handling operations eligible for
exemption or exclusion under section 205.101 of the NOP regulations.

Q:  Can non-certified companies use the word "organic?"

A:  Producers and handlers that qualify for exemption or exclusion from
certification may use the term "organic" in compliance with the labeling
requirements specific to their exemption or exclusion (see section
205.101 of NOP regulations).

Q: What type of records would be acceptable to National Organic Program
as proof of exempt organic operations showing compliance with the
labeling requirements, production requirements, handling requirements,
record keeping, audit trail, and non use of prohibited substances.  

A: Examples of records to be kept by exempt operations are listed in the
preamble of Subpart B, Applicability. Exempt operations must comply with
the applicable organic production and handling requirements of subpart C
of the national standards and meet the labeling requirements of section
205.310. Therefore, each exempt operation should maintain records which
demonstrate compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of
1990 and the national standards. It is the decision of the exempt
operation as to which records it needs to demonstrate compliance.

Q: Are exempt operations subject to National Organic Program (NOP)
audit? If so, what fee would be charged to those operations?

A: Yes. Exempt operations that produce or handle agricultural products
to be sold, labeled, or represented as "100 percent organic" or
"organic" are subject to NOP compliance audits. Costs associated with
compliance audits would be borne by the NOP.

Q: How was the gross receipt threshold of $5,000 established? What steps
would be necessary to raise the limit?

A: The $5,000 producer or handler exemption in §205.101(a) of the
national standards was mandated by OFPA (7 U.S.C. 6505(d)). Actions
necessary to raise the limit of the $5,000 producer/handler exemption
would include congressional amendment of OFPA §6505(d).

Q: Please explain who may use the term organic and how the term is to be
used.

A: Any production or handling operation certified according to the
provisions of subpart E, Certification, may use the term "organic"
(§205.100). Production or handling operations that are exempted or
excluded under §205.101 may use the term "organic" according to the
regulations specified in §205.310, Labeling; provided, they comply with
the production and handling requirements of subpart C of the national
standards.

Q: What are the penalties for misuse of the term "organic"?

A: Any operation that knowingly sells or labels a product as "organic",
except in accordance with the Act (OFPA) and the national standards, may
be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 per violation and
the provisions of 18 U.S.C 1001.

Q: Who will be responsible for the enforcement of the National Organic
Program and how will a typical prosecution proceed?

A: USDA, accredited certifying agents, and where applicable, approved
State Organic Programs will be responsible for enforcement of the
national regulations. Compliance procedures for certified organic
operations, accredited certifying agents, and State Organic Programs are
specified in sections 205.660 through 205.668 of the national standards.

Q: When a retail establishment markets products supplied from a
certified producer, in the event the producer is found non-compliant,
will the retailer be subject to any legal recourse from the NOP? Do the
same rules apply (to the retailer) for products produced by exempt and
non-exempt producers?

A: If a provider of product to a retail food establishment is found to
be in violation of the national organic standards and the retail food
establishment is not a party to that violation, there will be no action
by the National Organic Program (NOP) against the retail food
establishment. This holds true for certified producers and handlers as
well as those claiming exemption under section 205.101.

Any person, including a retail food establishment, who knowingly sells
or labels a product as organic, except in accordance with the OFPA and
the national organic standards, shall be subject to a civil penalty of
not more than $10,000 per violation.

Products that have entered the channels of commerce before the certified
operation's suspension or revocation will not result in a product
recall, unless the non-compliance involves a food safety issue. For
further information see page 80627 of the national organic standards.
http://www.ams.usda.gov/NOP/Q&A.html

Guy Clark
Zone 4-7

> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: Re: [Market-farming] "organic"
> From: Nett Riherd <nettriherd at yahoo.com>
> Date: Tue, July 24, 2007 5:05 am
> To: Market Farming <market-farming at lists.ibiblio.org>
> 
> I don't know how it is everywhere, but here in Oklahoma you can say you are organic. But there is a fine if you say certified organic. We own a certified organic produce and herb business, and I know we have to go through our states food and forestry department to get certified, so if you have questions about it you could call your department.  
>   Hope this helps..
>   Annette in Oklahoma
> 
> 
> 
>        
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