Organic Certification

Federal legislation requires certification of agricultural products that are labeled as organic.  Producers whose gross sales of organic products are under $5,000 are not required to seek certification. However, these small scale producers are encouraged to get certified, and still must follow the same standards as certified growers.  Farms selling more than $5,000 of organic products must be certified by a certifier that is accredited by the USDA National Organic Program.  See below for a list of certifying organizations in New England currently accredited by USDA.

National Organic Standards

Organic agriculture is based on the use of practices and inputs that enhance the physical, biological and chemical aspects of the soil and its ability to sustain crop and animal production in an environmentally safe manner. Natural sources of crop nutrients and cultural practices that build or maintain fertility are required by the National Organic Standards. Organic agriculture relies on cultural practices as much as possible for pest management, but allows natural based pesticides when needed.  In general, the use of synthetic substances for pest management is prohibited, although some synthetic materials are allowed and these are noted in Section 205.601 of the USDA National Organic Program Standards (http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/nop).

This Guide includes information on many organic practices and materials approved by the National Organic Program. See information on sources for crop nutrients in section Guidelines For Organic Fertility Management. Compost is discussed in the section Compost and Manure Use and Nutrient Management. Approved methods of managing weeds, insects and diseases are noted in the Pest Management section, including approved materials and other techniques such as floating row covers for insect exclusion, weed management using the stale seedbed technique and flame weeding. Organically accepted practices are also included in the specific crop chapters.

Organic Material Review

The grower is responsible for determining whether materials are allowed under organic standards.  Sometimes this may be a challenge because some materials labeled as organic by the manufacturer may not actually meet the standards of the National Organic Program.  The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is recognized by the USDA National Organic Program as an organic material review organization.  OMRI publishes a list of products suitable for certified organic production. These products are generally allowed, but some are regulated and subject to restrictions. It is the responsibility of the grower to know the restrictions on product use.  In some cases, OMRI notes that certain formulations of a product are permitted and others are not. The list of substances approved by OMRI is subject to change.  For the most up-to-date OMRI list, visit the OMRI web site at: www.omri.org.  If using a product not on the OMRI list, be sure to check with your certifier in advance to be certain that the materials and practices you plan to use are approved by your certifier, and that you understand any restrictions on use.

When mentioned in tables or in crop chapters, this Guide designates approved organic materials with a superscript OG (OG), which means they were "OMRI listed" as of June, 2015, when the materials were reviewed.

Accredited Certifiers in New England

Connecticut:

See Massachusetts.

Massachusetts:

Baystate Organic Certifiers

Don Franczyk (Main Office)
1220 Cedarwood Circle
N. Dighton, MA 02764
E-mail: baystateorganic@earthlink.net
Phone: (774) 872-5544
Fax: (774) 872-5545

Maine:

MOFGA Certification Services

294 Crosby Brook Rd.
P.O. Box 170
Unity, ME 04988
(207)568-4142
email: certifiication@mofga.org

New Hampshire:

Jennifer Gornnert, Director
New Hampshire Department of Agriculture
Division of Regulatory Services
25 Capitol St. P.O. Box 2042
Concord, NH 03302-2042
(603) 271-3685
email: Jennifer.Gornnert@agr,nh.gov

Rhode Island:

Matt Green
Div. of Ag.
235 Promenade St.
Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2781 x4509
email: matt.green@dem.ri.gov

Vermont:

Vermont Organic Farmers, LLC
P.O. Box 697
Richmond, VT 05477
(802) 434-4122
email: nicole@nofavt.org
www.nofavt.org