Sign up for the
Weekly Harvest Newsletter!

Published every Wednesday, the Weekly Harvest e-newsletter is a free Web digest of sustainable agriculture news, resources, events and funding opportunities gleaned from the Internet. See past issues of the Weekly Harvest.
Sign up here

Sign up for the Weekly Harvest Newsletter

What Is Sustainable Agriculture?

Master Publication List

Search Our Databases

Urban Agriculture

Energy Alternatives

Beginning Farmer

Field Crops

Horticultural Crops

Livestock & Pasture

Value-Added Food Products

Local Food Systems

Food Safety

Marketing, Business & Risk Management

Organic Farming

Pest Management

Soils & Compost

Water Management

Ecological Fisheries and Ocean Farming

Other Resources

Sign Up for The Dirt E-News

Home Page

Contribute to NCAT


Newsletter sign up button

· Privacy Policy · Newsletter Archives

RSS Icon XML Feeds

RSS 2.0: Events, Breaking News, Funding Opportunities Atom: Events, Breaking News, Funding Opportunities


NCAT strives to make our information available to everyone who needs it. If you are a limited-access or low-income farmer and find that one of our publications is just not in your budget, please call 800-346-9140.


How are we doing?


Home  > Question of the Week

Question of the Week

Permalink I am interested in applying for organic certification. What will an organic certifier look for?

Answer: Three years of land-use records is critical, with brand names and formulations of each material used, its location, and date of use. Plans and examples of how the producer will do recordkeeping in the future is important, even if every detail has not been documented in the past. The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) requires that records be kept for five years going forward.

An organic inspector will look at what is happening on the ground in the operation, and that key things are documented and recorded. Organic inspectors are more concerned with your records being accurately and faithfully kept, regardless of whether they are hand-written or saved on a computer. The key components of records are:

a) What goes into a farm: Receipts for material inputs with full brand name and formulation (so there is no question about being able to verify their allowability). It is easier to review these when there is one folder for seed and planting stock, with clear notations about organic and untreated seed, and any allowed treatments, and a separate folder for fertilizer or pest-management inputs.

b) Practices carried out on the farm, such as material applications (including clear identification of materials, dates, rates, and crop on which it is used) and crop rotation (one simple but effective way to track this is directly on multiple copies of a farm map).

c) What comes out of the farm: Harvest and sales records may be one and the same for some operations. A Market Load List (a template can be found in the Organic Market Farm Documentation Forms publication referenced below) should show market location, date, product taken to market, and product actually sold, with the total dollar amount of sales. Notation of travel, stall fees, and related marketing expenses, while not required for certification, is important to assess the true costs of marketing. Having records organized by market and date makes it easier and faster to review them for adequacy and completeness. Receipt books or invoices should also track the quantity, date, and organic status of product sold, and to whom. Records can be organized any way that makes sense to you and your farming operation, and as NOP regulations state, track every transaction such that they may be "readily understood and audited."

For more information the organic certification process, see the following ATTRA publications:

• Organic Certification of Farms and Businesses Producing Agricultural Products
• Organic Certification Process
• Organic System Plans: Market Farms and Greenhouses
• Organic Market Farm Documentation Forms



« Would using seed from a friend’s stand of "superior" black walnut clones result in a stand as good as the original clones? :: I am interested in producing sod for the wholesale market in Pennsylvania. What should I take under consideration in terms of soil requirements, seed, etc.? »


No Comments for this post yet...

Question of the Week Archives