Why Aren't More Farms Certified Organic?
Why aren’t more farms certified organic?
Certified organic farms are able to command a higher price tag for their products in retail settings because they go through a more rigorous vetting process than conventional farms. The United States Department of Agriculture is the entity responsible for setting and enforcing the guidelines through its accredited certifying agents. Each subset of producer: crops, poultry, dairy livestock, etc. have to comply with the specifications in their category in order to earn the coveted certified organic label.
Because our goal at Grubbable is to provide folks with easy access to information on local and sustainable foods, we decided to break this blog up into several sections, so we don’t bombard readers with an information overload! Trust us, anything pertaining to the USDA is not expeditious or simple (although we are very grateful to have them!) so we’ll extrapolate all the pertinent facts and give you the resources to delve deeper if inclined to do so.
So what do farms have to do to become certified organic?
In a nutshell, the overarching theme for farms to become certified organic is as follows:
- Produced without excluded methods (e.g., genetic engineering), ionizing radiation, or sewage sludge.
- Produced per the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List).
- Overseen by a USDA National Organic Program authorized certifying agent, following all USDA organic regulations.
This translates to basically no synthetic additives or preservatives; GMO’s to be found as ingredients, the grass, soil and feed for livestock and poultry ALL MUST be certified organic. Furthermore, a third party certifying agency must verify all of this information, and you better have your documentation ready and easily accessible at anytime for the inspectors for typically up to 5 years.
Sounds simple enough right? Oh our wise readers, we know you better than that! To become a certified organic farm it can take anywhere from 3 months to several years depending upon many factors but primarily if your land is even ready to begin the process determines how long things can take. Plus if there are any discrepancies or noncompliance issues, you should anticipate the process to be even lengthier.
Are you certified organic farmer? We’d love to hear how your experience was! Any suggestions or insight from someone who’s been there done that can be very advantageous to help others considering going down this journey.