Have you ever thought of the steps it takes into creating the certified organic produce we see in the grocery market? Creating a USDA Organic farm is much more daunting than most of the consuming public would think. It takes years, acres of land, knowledge, and thousands of dollars to begin producing fully certified USDA produce.
First Steps to an Organic Farm
The first step of having a farm turn organic is creating the ideal land for produce to grow on. The USDA Certification stated, “The national standard states that organic food must be produced without the use of conventional pesticides, petroleum-based fertilizers, sewage-sludge-based fertilizers, herbicides, genetic engineering (biotechnology), antibiotics, growth hormones, or irradiation. Animals raised on an organic operation must meet animal health welfare standards, not be fed antibiotics or growth hormones, be fed 100% organic feed, and must be provided access to the outdoors.”https://ofrf.org/research/organic-faqs/ This needs to be clean of the listed chemicals for at least a three year span. This will get rid of contaminants in the water and soil, creating a healthy environment for produce to thrive on.
While the farmers soil is gradually removing toxins, they reach out to a specialist that will become their certifying agent. A certifying agent will check to see if the produce is up to the standards required. The certifier will review the application and then decide if they will work with the farm on the certification. Read further on what steps are taken during the certifying agent process to learn more:https://www.ams.usda.gov/services/organic-certification.
Once the certifier is in place, an inspector will thoroughly check the farm. The inspector will then work with the certifier on if the farm is ready for their USDA certification. From there on out, annual checks are made to assure consumers are eating the produce they can rely on. Random checks are scheduled as well.
After produce begins to sell as organic, the farmer is then in charge of keeping an audit for sold goods. Other rules include not letting the organic produce touch the conventional counterparts. This may sound easy, but the rules within are difficult. One example is once the farm loads the produce onto the truck, the organic section must be on top. If the runoff from the conventional produce seeps onto the counterpart, it’ll cause unwanted chemicals to seep into the product.
Issues With The Certification
There are many different organic certifiers and labels. This creates havoc for consumers and can cause mix up in the grocery store. It also creates room for fake companies to falsify their certification labels. Another issue with this is that the standards are different. One certifier may say that one type of ingredient is harmful, but another may say it’s harmless. This can also confuse farmers on which certifications are the safest and what will make them the most revenue.