In order to sell products as organic, farmers, ranchers or processor must first become certified by a National Organic Program accredited certifying agency.
In 2002 the NOP was established through the United States Department of Agriculture to provide legal and consistent regulations and certification procedures which apply to production and processing of all produce sold as organic in the U. S.
- Certification is a yearly cost and a farmer should evaluate whether he or she has enough organic product to sell in order to justify the cost.
- Farmers whose gross agricultural income from organic sales total $5,000 or less annually are exempt from certification under NOP 205.101 Exemptions and exclusions.
Guides for Becoming Certified
- The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Handbook site includes links to USDA organic regulation documents and updates.
- Guidebook for Organic Certification, Answers to Common Certification Questions (order or download here) by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)
- Organic Certification and Accreditation — a USDA resource on organic certification basics, benefits of organic certification, how to become certified, and organic enforcement activities.
- USDA’s Organic Certifier Locator, in its INTEGRITY database, provides the most accurate information about accredited certifying agents and is updated regularly by the NOP and certifying agents.
- Sound and Sensible — Resources from a USDA project with 14 contractors to make organic certification more accessible, attainable, and affordable.
- Essentials of USDA's Organic Livestock Requirements
Additional Certification Programs
- IFOAM-International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements
IFOAM's mission is leading, uniting, and assisting the organic movement in its full diversity. Its goal "is the worldwide adoption of ecologically, socially, and economically sound systems that are based on the principles of Organic Agriculture."
Disclaimer: Reference to commercial products or trade names in these publications is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by University of Nebraska-Lincoln is implied.