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Organic Standards

Farming
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STEP 1:
Improving the quality of the soil is the basis for organic. The farm’s soil must be free of prohibited substances for a minimum of three years prior to harvesting crops that will be labeled as organic. The organic requirements encourages farmers to improve soil fertility and rotate crops to naturally increase crop yields and disease resistance.
Harvesting
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STEP 2:
Organic crops are picked, cut, and cleaned in the field. To ensure organic integrity, certifying these operations through inspections and records evaluation is necessary. Equipment used for harvesting and processing must be cleaned and sanitized in accordance with organic requirements.
Packaging
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STEP 3:
Packaging may occur in the field, at a facility or where a product is cleaned, canned or bagged, and given a product label, name or an identification number, such as a UPC code. Through inspection and records evaluation, organic products are verified to make sure organic integrity has been maintained through the packaging process.
Processing
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STEP 4:
Organic crops can be processed further with other organic crops or spices. To ensure the organic integrity of a product has been maintained, a USDA-accredited certifying agent must inspect these operations to verify that they are operating according to the organic regulations.
Labeling
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STEP 5:
Labeling is a very important part of organic. How agricultural products have been handled, processed, and combined with other ingredients determines their organic label. Certifying agents verify that organic products are accurately labeled:
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Shipping
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STEP 6:
Products are shipped to distributors or to retail stores. To ensure ongoing organic integrity, products must be protected from contamination by non-organic products. Prior to loading and unloading, trucks are verified for shipping practices that maintain such integrity, such as the prevention of commingling of organic and non-organic products and impermeable packaging.
Distribution
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STEP 7:
Products are compiled from farms, processors, or other distributors to one central location in order to distribute products. If an organic product is repackaged, perhaps to smaller sizes, inspections are done to confirm that organic integrity has been maintained.
Retail
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STEP 8:
By selecting products that carry the USDA’s organic seal or a certifier’s mark, consumers can be rest assured that each step in that product’s organic supply chain meets the NOP requirements.
From farm to fork, we are all working together under usda oversight
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About the USDA Organic Standards

Certified organic foods are produced according to federal standards set by the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP). These regulations describe the specific standards required to use the word “organic” or the USDA organic seal. Under the federal organic standards, agricultural products labeled “100% organic, "organic," and “made with organic (specified ingredient(s))” must be certified by a USDA accredited certifying agent and comply with the U.S. organic laws and regulations.

The organic regulations developed from the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), were implemented in 2002. Prior to 2002, private and State agencies certified organic practices, but there was no uniformity in standards and therefore no guarantee that "organic" meant the same thing from state to state, or even locally from certifier to certifier. National standards for organic products were desired by both producers and consumers to clear up confusion in the marketplace and to protect against mislabeling or fraud.

OFPA created the U. S. National Organic Standards. The Act authorized a new USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to set national standards for the production, handling, and processing of organically grown agricultural products. USDA NOP is authorized to enforce OFPA. In addition, the Program oversees mandatory certification of organic production. The Act also established the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which advises the Secretary of Agriculture in setting the standards upon which the NOP is based. Producers who meet NOP standards may label their products as “USDA Certified Organic.”

The USDA organic regulations describe the specific requirements that must be verified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent before agricultural products can be labeled as organic. Overall, organic operations must demonstrate that they are protecting natural resources, conserving biodiversity, and using only approved crop, livestock and processing inputs. The use of genetic engineering (GMOs), ionizing radiation, sewage sludge and most synthetic pesticides and fertilizers is prohibited from organic production.

Read the Organic Foods Production Act               Learn more about the National Organic Program             Learn about how the organic standards are overseen


Contact
Senior Director of Regulatory and Technical Affairs 
(503) 798-3294
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