State-to-State Food Certification and Organic Farm Consumer Programs

Alaska Organic Certification System

Artic Organic Alaska Logo

PGS is Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) are locally-focused quality assurance systems that we’d love to discuss in this blog. Producers participate as stakeholders and build on a foundation of trust, networks, and knowledge exchange. Certified Naturally Grown is a Participatory Guarantee System. In recent years they have gained recognition for the valuable role they play in small-scale farmers in organic systems. PGS provides an important alternative to third-party certification programs

In addition to being more affordable and less reliant on paperwork, PGS distinguishes itself by its approach. Inspections take place by peers. Typically, other farmers in the area. The PGS model is based on transparency, trust, and direct relationships. PGS fosters local networks that strengthen the farming community through mutual support and educational opportunities. IFOAM actively supports the development of PGS with educational materials, a bi-monthly newsletter, the publication of an international PGS directory, and its PGS committee.

An estimated fifty thousand farmers in more than 50 countries participate in this type of peer-review certification program. In some countries, PGS has gained official government recognition and has entered into organic regulations. Arctic Organics is a great example of the State Food Certification for Organic Food Markets in this State & Nationwide.

New Hampshire Organic Certification Program

Hampshire Department Organic Market Logo

The NH Department of Agriculture Markets & Food (NHDAMF) is a USDA Certifier. It allows the Division of Regulatory Services to implement the organic certification program with oversight by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). Certification services are available to producers, processors & handlers, and on-farm processors of organic plant, animal, food, and fiber commodities. The scopes which NHDAMF is accredited to certify include crops, wild crops, livestock, and handling operations.

Prospective certified producers must complete an annual Organic System Plan (OSP) demonstrating adherence to the program’s organic regulations. “Organic system plan” means a plan of management of an organic production or handling operation. This agreement is on the system from the producer or handler. The certifying agent includes written plans concerning all aspects of agricultural production or handling described in the NOP regulations. Annual on-site inspection visits are a requirement of random follow-up visits to verify compliance with the rules. Ultimately, this program has associated certification and inspection fees.

Maine Organic Certification System

Maine organic farm garden logo

MOFGA-certified organic is the best of both worlds.
roducts in this program are certified organic and produced or raised in Maine. Local tells you WHERE your food is produced, and organic tells you HOW it is produced. Maine Organics is a leader in State Food Certification for Organic Food Markets.

Maine Organic Farmers do not use GMO seeds, plants, or animal feeds. This organic certification also means that these farmers cannot feed their animals GMO grains. Organic certification assures integrity and transparency through rigorous third-party inspections. A third-party inspector must visit the business and ensure the following organic practices. The federal government must accredit the certifier, such as MOFGA Certification Services LLC in Maine. Certified organic producers must keep careful records of their practices. An inspection happens annually to ensure compliance with federal organic standards. Today’s marketplace features an abundance of labels, such as “all-natural” and “naturally grown.” Certified organic is one of the few that involves an independent, third-party verified process.

Arkansas Organic Certification System

Arkansas land conversation assistance network

To receive your certification, you must meet all the requirements of the NOP regulations.  These regulations cover such topics as what substances you may use in production and processing, conservation measures,  recordkeeping requirements, and administrative procedures.

Colorado Organic Certification System organic initiative provides assistance to help implement conservation practices for organic producers or those transitioning to organic.  The initiative addresses natural resource concerns and helps growers meet requirements related to the National Organic Program (NOP). NRCS assistance includes, but is not limited to:

      • Developing a conservation plan establishing buffer zones

      • Planning and installing pollinator habitat

      • Improving soil quality and organic matter while minimizing erosion

      • Developing a grazing plan and supportive livestock practices

      • Improving irrigation efficiency-enhancing cropping rotations, and nutrient management


    Florida Organic Certification System

    Florida organic quality growers logo 2001, FOG received its USDA accreditation to certify farms as organic under its certification program, Quality Certification Services (QCS). QCS is a USDA and ANSI ISO/IEC 17065 accredited certification body that offers a wide array of certification options for farming, livestock, aquaculture, compound animal feed, packing, handling, processing, and wild harvest operations. As the largest certifier on the United States eastern seaboard, QCS meets the needs of operations regardless of type, location, or size. QCS offers the following certification options: Certified Organic (all scopes), Food Safety Certification (Produce GAPs Harmonized Standards, GFSI recognized GLOBALG.A.P.’s IFA-Crops-FV, PSS, HPSS, and IFA-Aquaculture + GRASP + FoS

    Add-On / CFM for livestock and aquaculture feeds, BRC, IFS), Certified Transitional, Certified Hormone/Antibiotic Free, Organic Aquaculture, Aquaponics, and Specific Trade Practices, which allows markets and consumers to choose to support a more just agricultural system. We educate producers, consumers, media, institutions, and governments about the benefits of organic and sustainable agriculture, presenting at tours, conferences, workshops, classes, and other educational opportunities. Topics include but are not limited to organic and sustainable farming practices, local food systems, Farm Bill opportunities, certification options, marketing, social justice, and opportunities and challenges in the organic marketplace.

    Georgia Organic Certification System

    Georgia Organic Certification

    CAUCASCERT Ltd was founded in Georgia in 2005. It is the first local organic certification company in the country. Its main purpose is to inspect and certify organic products. Through its activities, CAUCASCERT facilitates the development of organic agriculture, the protection of the rights of organic products’ consumers’, and the growth of the organic market in Georgia. Besides, it facilitates the exportation of Georgian organic products to European Union and Switzerland. CAUCASCERT Ltd has been accredited according to ISO-17065 by the German accreditation body DAkkS. It has been included in the list of third-country equivalent organic certification agencies (please, refer to EC regulation 1330/2016). The main principles of CAUCASCERT in its work are impartiality, transparency, and sustainability. We strive for long-term cooperation. CAUCASCERT participates in the development of national and private standards, and training of qualified organic inspectors, and contributes to increasing public awareness of the importance of organic agriculture. Caucascert leads in the State Food Certification for Organic Food Markets in this Georgia.

    Hawaii Organic Certification System

    Hawaii Organic Certification
    Welcome everyone to UH-CTAHR’s organic listserv. The goal of this listserv is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas concerning organic agriculture in Hawaii. The topics for discussion are wide open, from policy issues, certification, marketing, and industry updates, to how-to technical field production comments or questions. We encourage everyone interested in sustainable agriculture in Hawaii to join. The Food Provider is the sustainable agriculture electronic newsletter of the College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. Published quarterly, it features articles on sustainable and organic production, business, Marketing, CTAHR Research News, video resources, and a Featured Farmer segment.

    Idaho Organic Certification System

    Idaho Organic Certification. Preferred® is a program to identify and promote food and agricultural products grown, raised, or processed in the Gem State. Administered by the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, the program showcases the quality, diversity, and availability of Idaho food and agricultural products and helps Idaho consumers find local products.

    Rhode Island Organic Certification System

    Rhode Island Organic Certification

    Department of Environmental ManagementThe Plant Industry Section of RIDEM’s Division of Agriculture and Resource Marketing administers the Rhode Island Organic Certification Program, by which qualified farms in the state are certified as producing products organically. Beginning in 1990, crops were certified by standards developed by the Rhode Island Organic Certification Committee. Since the USDA AMS National Organic Program (NOP) went into effect in October 2002, the DEM has been an accredited state certification agency certifying according to the NOP Standards.

    These federal regulations require that any raw or processed agricultural commodity or product, marketed for human or livestock consumption, which is sold, labeled, or represented as “100% organic,” “organic,” or “made with organic” in the US must be produced and handled in accordance with the NOP Standards. Any producer or handler (processor) with gross income from sales of organic agricultural products over $5,000.00 annually is required to be certified by a USDA-accredited certifier.

    Operations exempt from certification are also required to comply with the production, handling, and record-keeping requirements of the Standards. More information is available in Organic Certification Resources and Requirements for Uncertified Operations. The USDA NOP regulations can be found on the NOP web page. The Division of Agriculture is accredited by USDA to certify organic crops and livestock producers. Certification agencies that are accredited to certify organic handlers can be found on the USDA NOP Accredited Certifiers web page. Operations with activities that fall within the organic handling category are those that process, manufacture, or handle organic products. To find out whether an operation should be certified as a handler, read through the NOP FAQ on becoming a certified operation and State Food Certification.

    Illinois Organic Certification System

    Illinois Organic Certification

    Protecting and advocating for consumers’ right to safe, healthful food and other consumer products, a just food and farming system, and an environment rich in biodiversity and free of pollutants. Who we are OCA is an online and grassroots 501(c)3 nonprofit public interest organization, and the only organization in the U.S. focused exclusively on promoting the views and interests of the nation’s estimated 95 million consumers of organically and socially responsibly produced food and other products. 

    What we do OCA educates and advocates on behalf of organic consumers, engages consumers in marketplace pressure campaigns, and works to advance sound food and farming policy through grassroots lobbying. We address crucial issues around State Food Certification, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children’s health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, environmental sustainability, including pesticide use, and other food- and agriculture-related topics. 

    In summary, OCA education campaigns reach more than two million consumers and organic businesses either through our newsletter, our social media networks, or mainstream and progressive news outlets. Our U.S. and international policy board is broadly representative of the organic, family farm, environmental, and public interest community.

    Connecticut Organic Certification System

    Connecticut Organic Certification
    A Certified Organic Farm is in compliance with the National Organic Program (NOP) standards and has been inspected and certified by an accredited USDA certifying agent.  Products have been grown/raised without the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, growth hormones, irradiation, or genetic engineering.  The certification process is rigorous and requires record keeping, payment of an annual fee, and an annual inspection. Note: The National Organic Program allows farmers who sell less than $5,000 worth of organic produce per year to call their produce “organic” if they follow the national standards. 

    Baystate Organic Certifiers certifies many organic farms in Connecticut and Massachusetts. CT NOFA SUPPORTS ITS MEMBERS IN THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS WITH FREE CONSULTINGCT NOFA now offers to consult for those who need help with their application for State Food Certification for crops, livestock, poultry, eggs, wild crops, mushrooms, sprouts, processed products, and cranberries.

    New York Organic Certification System

    New York Organic Certification

    Diverse Client Base: we certify a wide range of organic operations that include: State Food Certification, Farm/Producer, Dairy, Livestock, Wild Crops, Maple, Handler, Broker, Processor, Co-packer, Slaughterhouse, Distributor, Restaurant, and Livestock Auction House.Local and Regional Knowledge: we specialize in the New York State region and surrounding Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions in order to better assist in finding allowed inputs, addressing soil and pest issues, and more.

    We are invested in our producers and provide easy and timely access. We also seek to reduce inspector travel costs by using local agents. Highly Experienced and Trained Staff: we offer a dedicated staff with extensive years of experience in farming and organic certification. Our staff contains graduates in fields including Environmental Studies/Planning, Animal Science, Ag Business, Biology, Vegetable Crops, and Plant Pathology. Our goal is to provide great customer service and always ensure the highest integrity of the organic standards. Wide Range of Special Services100% Grass Fed Certification ProgramField & Dairy Herd Transition MonitoringExpedited CertificationInternational Trade DocumentsProduct/Material Reviews

    Iowa Organic Certification System

    Iowa Organic Certification

    Our mission is to educate producers, consumers, and policymakers in the research and extension activities in Organic Agriculture both on-farm and in the Universities. Organic Agriculture involves a production management system based on the ecological principles of nutrient cycling, biotic regulation of pests, and biodiversity. Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides are replaced by sunlight-based inputs, such as plant and animal residues. Premium prices for certified organic products drive the immediate economic benefits of Organic Agriculture.

    Long-term benefits to human and environmental health are also derived through these practices. We encourage you to explore this website and send us your comments or questions. Similarly, ISU operates an Organic Agriculture Program to provide research information and extension presentations for Iowa citizens through Field Days, learning workshops and an Annual Iowa Organic Conference every November in Iowa City.

    Kansas Organic Certification System

    Kansas Organic Certification

    The Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) is the nation’s first state department of agriculture. The devotion of this agency is to the total support of agriculture in Kansas. The department works for the entire Kansas agriculture sector, including farmers, ranchers, food establishments, and agribusinesses. The department is dedicated to providing support for State Food Certification and assistance to make Kansas businesses. Successful and encouraging more farms, ranches, and other agriculture businesses to expand or relocate to Kansas.

    New Jersey Organic Certification System

    New Jersey Organic Certification

    Jersey Fresh

    Surprisingly, New Jersey ranks 1st in the nation in the production of eggplant. Often finding use as a meat substitute. Jersey Fresh is Local. Established in 1984, by the New Jersey Department of Agriculture. The Jersey Fresh logo was designed to inform consumers which fruits and vegetables were grown in the Garden State. The logo guarantees that this piece of produce grows in New Jersey. State Food Certification is key in creating organic food markets.

    Pennsylvania Organic Certification System

    Pennsylvania Organic Certification

    Definitely, PA Preferred is your resource for finding locally grown and processed agricultural products from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The program has a location in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Market Development. Significantly, the department launched PA Preferred to identify and promote food and agricultural products grown, produced, and processed in Pennsylvania.

    Pennsylvania is home to 7.7 million acres of land in farms with an average farm size of 133 acres. The Commonwealth boasts 57,900 farms, 97% of which the owners are families. These farms are growing the food that fuels our citizens and these endeavors fuel the economy. In the long run, choosing to buy PA Preferred directly impacts our farmers and our Commonwealth.

    The PA Preferred membership base is broader than farmers, there are also businesses that directly support Pennsylvania agriculture by sourcing ingredients from Pennsylvania farms. PA Preferred processing members are the makers that add value to Pennsylvania agricultural goods. They are preserving the bounty by processing farm fresh items in a variety of ways.

    Pennsylvania farmers and the companies that process Pennsylvania-grown ingredients can join PA Preferred to reap the benefits of this statewide brand identity. The mission of PA Preferred is to create opportunities for Pennsylvanians to easily identify and purchase locally grown and processed items, which in turn benefits Pennsylvania’s farmers, agribusinesses, and economy. It is to provide farmers and agribusinesses with a brand identity for the products they grow and produce and State Food Certification. It is to assure consumers that when they purchase products with the PA Preferred logo, they are directly supporting Pennsylvania farmers.

    Delaware Organic Certification System

    Delaware Organic Certification

    The Department of Agriculture has a dedicated staff that strives effectively and efficiently to accomplish our mission, to sustain and promote the viability of food, fiber, and agricultural industries in Delaware through quality services that protect and enhance the environment, health, and welfare of the general public.

    Specifically, buying local means buying fresh – buying the best. Buying a local Christmas tree, ice cream, fresh produce, meats and eggs – and much more – directly from Delaware farms means you’re getting the best farm products you can. Delaware has a wealth of markets, farm stores, and other opportunities where you can buy locally and support your friends and neighbors. In conclusion, the members of Delaware’s 2,500 farm families work year-round to bring you the best and freshest products.

    Washington Organic Certification System

    Washington Organic Certification

    WSDA has been serving agriculture and the public for more than 100 years. Through service, regulation, and advocacy, we support keeping agriculture viable and vital in Washington State. While protecting consumers, public health, and the environment.
    The nature of our work falls into three primary roles:

    There is recognition of this expertise as a valuable resource. Services are asked for and paid for by the industry. These will include quality inspections, certifications, laboratory testing, and produce grading.

    We offer guidance, workshops, and technical assistance to support education for better compliance. Regulatory work includes registration, licensing, permits, inspection, investigation, and compliance support for State Food Certification.
    Collectively, we work to raise the profile of Washington’s agricultural products and industry. Through policy, planning, partnerships, outreach, and promotion, we can be a voice, catalyst, and facilitator for a viable industry.

    Oregon Organic Certification System

    Oregon Organic Certification

    Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) is a USDA-accredited certifying agent for organic crop production and organic handling/processing. Organic is a labeling term for food or other agricultural products that have gone through production using cultural, biological, and mechanical practices. Ones that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance and conserve biodiversity. To emphasize, this is in accordance with the USDA organic regulations.

    This means that organic operations must maintain or enhance soil and water quality, while also conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not find use on farms seeking certification. Any operation, or portion of the operation, that produces or handles crops, livestock, livestock products, or other agricultural products. If they are going for sale, labeling, or representation as “100 percent organic,” they must have the certification from any USDA-accredited certifying agent.

    Utah Organic Certification System

    Utah Organic Certification

    Utah’s Own connects consumers with local farmers, ranchers, food artisans, and other agricultural producers. When you buy from a Utah Producer, you strengthen the economy. Creating local jobs, increasing food security, and helping preserve farms, ranches, small businesses, and farmland. Helping preserve farms over time. This causes a ripple effect to ensure Utah will have farms and ranches for generations to come.

    Locally, produced food is often higher in quality and freshness. Additionally, reducing the distance food travels reduces associated air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Local food systems are also linked to reduced food safety risks through production decentralization. Getting to know your local producers gives you a stronger sense of place, relationships, trust, and pride within your community. Simply, with so many incredible producers in Utah, you’re bound to find something new to love. Above all, each time you buy these products you choose to support the local Utah food supply.

    California Organic Certification System

    California Organic Certification

    CCOF advances organic agriculture for a healthy world. Simply, advocating on behalf of the members for organic policies, support the growth of organic through education and grants, and provide organic certification that is personal and accessible. CCOF is a non-profit organization that governs the people who grow and make our food. Founded in California more than 40 years ago. Today, their roots span the breadth of North America and their presence has international recognition.

    This program receives support from an organic family of farmers, ranchers, processors, retailers, consumers, and policymakers. Together, they work to realize a future where organic is the norm. CCOF members can connect with other members of the organic community through their regional or Processor/Handler chapters.

    Apply for organic certification for your farm, products, or ranch. Learn about the CCOF Foundation and support their work growing the organic movement, or share the word about our programs with your community. In fact, activists should look into our advocacy efforts for opportunities to voice their opinions and become change-makers. 2% for OrganicSimply by choosing CCOF for their organic certification, each CCOF-certified operation gives 2 percent of their certification fees back to the CCOF Foundation.

    That 2 percent enables the CCOF Foundation to give grants. The funding goes to:

        • Teachers and students studying organic.

        • Provide financial assistance to organic farmers

        • The development of education programs for prospective organic professionals

        • And promote consumer education about organic

      Finally, the Foundation Members, Partners, and Sponsors help fill in the remaining funding necessary to keep advancing organic agriculture. In fact, we are hoping to join the CCOF with our almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and dates all grown in California.

      Utah Organic Certification System

      Utah Organic Certification

      Organic Production is a system that both the state and federal manage. However, this is in response to site-specific conditions in the growing or processing of foods. The intent of organically grown products is to foster the cycling of resources and promoting of ecological balance. Furthermore, this program intends to serve producers, processors, and consumers of agricultural products. The goal is to manage a process that will maintain the integrity of food products produced without the use of restricted chemical inputs.

      Nevada Organic Certification System

      Nevada Local Food Certifications

      NevadaGrown is a non-profit Nevada corporation. Their mission is to foster the success of sustainable agriculture. The goal is to encourage healthy eating in Nevada’s communities through education, support, and promotion. NevadaGrown is set to educate communities about using foods grown in Nevada. Encourage healthy eating habits that include seasonal foods from Nevada farms and ranches. Accordingly, this program creates educational opportunities to increase the knowledge and skills of Nevada’s agricultural producers. Create and promote a sustainable local food system. Strengthen the bonds between farmers and consumers.

      Nevada Organic Certification System

      Nevada Organic Certification Nevada Department of Agriculture works with a variety of organizations to promote awareness and education regarding Nevada agriculture.

      Arizona Organic Certification

      Through a federal grant, the Citrus, Fruit, and Vegetable Division oversees the Organic Certification Cost Share (OCCS) reimbursement program. In addition, the OCCS provides cost-share assistance to producers and handlers who are obtaining organic certification for the first time or renewing their previous certification. Cost-share assistance is provided on a first-come, first-served basis, as long as funds are available.

      The U.S. Department of Agriculture, and Farm Service Agency, request applications for the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and the Organic Certification Cost Share Program. Subsequently, referred to as the OCCSP. The purpose of the OCCSP awards is to defray the costs of receiving and maintaining the State Food Certification.

      To be eligible, a producer or handler must have paid fees and expenses related to certification under the National Organic Program. Comparatively, an eligible producer or handler must provide the following information to the appropriate State Agency to apply for reimbursement. Firstly, evidence that the operation is obtaining or has obtained certification under the National Organic Program. Finally, an itemized receipt that identifies allowable costs paid.

      Alabama Organic Certification System

      Alabama Organic Certification

      The adoption of organic practices in Alabama has grown in recent years. Subsequently, this growth is parallel to an increase in marketing opportunities. Producer-only farmers markets, community-supported agriculture, and online sales platforms are growing. Correspondingly, consumers can now find organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, milk, and meats, all produced in Alabama. Organic farming has grown into a $50 billion industry in the United States. Subsequently, interest in organic production began in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s. During this time period concerns about the effects of agricultural chemicals on human health and the environment.

      These concerns led to a desire for farm products raised without synthetic chemicals. Alabama’s oldest organic farms were established in the1980s. Broader adoption of organic State Food Certification farming practices lagged behind other parts of the country.

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