What is the difference between certified and non-certified organic farms?

For a product to be considered certified organic by the USDA and to bear the USDA seal, it must be 100% organic or be 95 to 99% organic with non-organic ingredients approved by the USDA. A friend told me how upset she was to discover that when she buys certified organic food, the quality (or authenticity) is not always the same as that of our product (which is no longer certified). In essence, I told him that not all organic products are created the same way because of variables on many levels. Farms are as individualized as people.

In the area of natural agricultural systems, people's personal beliefs influence the way operations are carried out. Some farmers avoid using plastic mulch, greenhouses and trays with outlets in their systems because, in principle, they want to use as little plastic as possible. While all organic producers seek to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, some practice total avoidance, using zero-tillage practices and relying on hand tools. While traditional and open-pollinated plant varieties have a place in almost every garden, some choose to be limited exclusively to those varieties, while others may include some hybrids.

In the U.S. UU. Organic certification used to be processed state by state (or certifier by certifier). The basic concept was common to all, but depending on where the farm applied for certification, the standards could be somewhat different.

Because of the possible difficulties in transporting the product across state lines or in using it in processed foods destined anywhere, standardization is cited as the reason for the creation of the United States. A set of rules approved by the Department of Agriculture that are uniform across the country. Some suspect that the rules were developed to offer an advantage to larger industrial farms. The suspicions seem to have been confirmed.

Organic mega-farms, once unheard of, now prevail. We now see huge “organic” monocultures, industrial farms that milk between 10,000 and 20,000 organic heads and eggs and poultry that come out of confinement operations and organic CAFOs. All of this implies incredible competition and extreme disadvantages for small-scale organic operations, whose certification, in theory, has the same weight as that of “large organic production”. Are all these seemingly inconsistent “organic” practices really allowed according to certification standards? Maybe yes, maybe not.

Not all organic certifiers have the same motives, values or objectives. In some cases, multi-billion dollar commercial companies (the certifiers) now certify multi-billion dollar corporate agribusinesses (the farms). And the USDA has allowed the interpretation of organic regulations to be left to the certifier, some of whom understand very well the difficulties of maintaining an organic operation on such a large scale. The Cornucopia Institute, an agricultural watchdog, will soon publish another of its evaluations of “reports and scorecards”, this time in relation to organic certifiers.

Its objective is to tell us which organizations certify operations that are truly organic and which are offering real organic farmers unfair competition (and consumers of organic products, essentially fraudulent products) by certifying agribusiness operations and allowing them to have the certified organic label. In addition, the Organic Farmers Association (OFA, only members of certified organic farmers) and the National Organic Coalition (NOC) are expressing the concerns, at the national level, of those involved in organic agriculture, issues that range from organic integrity to the ability of farmers to maintain their livelihoods. In addition, Real Organic Project, whose mission is to inform the public about the true values and practices of organic agriculture, is working to create an additional label for Certified Organic in order to contribute to transparency. For a farm to be certified as organic, it must avoid synthetic chemical inputs (such as synthetic fertilizers and synthetic pesticides), sewage sludge as fertilizer, and genetically modified (GMO) seeds.

Farmland must have been free of these synthetic chemicals for (generally) three years before certification. There are a number of practices that are defended in organic agriculture, such as crop rotation and the concomitant use of agricultural maps, the use of cover crops and green manures, intercropping and complementary planting, management that reduces the use and dependence on fossil fuels, the promotion of natural predators to control insect populations, etc. Soil and water quality has always been important in organic agriculture, and its professionals emphasize soil construction practices, erosion prevention and timely fertilization. There has also been increasing emphasis on carbon sequestration and on the agricultural practices that encourage it, especially since 2000, as these mechanisms are better understood.

Beyond agricultural production, livestock care is also clearly defined in relation to housing space, adequate nutrition and the avoidance of antibiotics and growth agents, among other things. The annual renewal of certification and farm visits are part of the certification. It is a third-party certification system and the certification rates are high enough to maintain such a system. The Certified Naturally Grown (GNC) program was founded in 2002 in response to the creation of the NOP.

This is largely a popular program; its creation was due to dissatisfaction with the appropriation of the certified organic label by the USDA. CNG certification is requested by several farmers who had previously obtained organic certification. The CNG program offers a growing system with production standards based on NOP standards, but with simpler and less expensive administration (and that old, holistic feel). It is especially attractive to farmers who sell locally and focus on direct sales to the consumer.

Annual inspections for certification can be carried out by producers who use or not use CNG, extension agents, expert gardeners, or even customers (although other CNG producers are considered to be ideal). This program certifies agricultural and livestock operations, as well as apiaries, and CNG farms are subject to random testing for pesticide residues. Regenerative organic agriculture is what we could call superorganic. While many natural agricultural practices expect to work with nature or employ some of nature's tactics in agriculture, Regenerative Organics designs its systems to largely mimic nature.

It aims to improve the resources on which it depends (soil, water, air) rather than depleting them. The objectives include increasing soil fertility and agricultural biodiversity (with an increase in the dependence of perennial plants on annual plants), as well as the vitality of seeds and crops. It seeks to keep agriculture and agricultural solutions low cost. In addition, the IMO places special emphasis on organic production, which makes its partnership with Ecocert even more significant.

Although they accept and initiate certification with all production systems, their annual improvements and recommendations suggest that all non-organic producers opt for organic products. Verifying GMO-free projects is as simple as it seems. Products labeled as such do not contain genetically modified organisms. This means that they do not contain plants whose genetic makeup cannot occur naturally.

Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have a genetic code in which a quantity of DNA has been inserted that could not exist there by the normal means of plant reproduction (a combination of genes that could not exist in nature). In addition to processed products, farmers can obtain certified products, as well as animal products such as eggs and meat, which would be a certification of non-transgenic feed. It provides third-party verification, of course. Leah Smith works at Nodding Thistle, her family's organic farm in central Michigan.

After graduating from Michigan State University, he returned to the farm to continue his agricultural life and devote time to writing. Eco Farming Daily is published by Acres U, S, A. The USDA Certified Organic Standard is the basis of certification standards; in addition, those who wish to obtain certification are required to first work with several existing certifiers in the area of the three pillars. However, Regenerative Organics really differs from other certifications because it seems to focus on both food production and carbon sequestration; its goal is to reverse climate change by transforming agriculture into a carbon sink rather than a source of carbon in the environment.

Some producers and farmers say that they grow and sell organic products, and they don't need certification to support those claims, depending on where they do business. Exempt and excluded operations must still comply with specific sections of USDA organic regulations. While certification is not required for these “exempt” or “excluded” operations, they can apply for voluntary organic certification. Many consumers chose to vote with their money, choosing organic products and supporting the type of agriculture and food production they would like to see.

Then, once the specific ROC guidelines for each pillar are met, farms will be eligible for ROC Bronze, Silver or Gold certification. If they fumigate, certified organic farmers must use naturally occurring aerosols allowed under organic standards, such as those on Canada's list of permitted substances. There are many other organizations at the forefront, such as Kiss the Ground (California), the Organic Farming Association (EcoFarm, California), the Land Institute (Kansas) and the Soil Foodweb Institute (Australia), to name a few, as well as many advocates, such as Dan Kittredge of the Bionutrient Food Association (Massachusetts) and Mark Shepard of New Forest Farms (Wisconsin). .

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