Acquiring an organic certification is no easy feat. A farmer, retailer, or other related business has to undergo a systematic process under United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations administered by the National Organic Program (NOP) to assure consumers that their products are safe and sustainably cultivated.
A farm or business that receives more than $5,000 in gross annual organic sales must be certified, and those who receive less are exempted. Those who are exempted may not use the USDA organic seal to sell their products as certified organic, but they are welcome to obtain optional organic certification. They are also not required to document specific practices and substances they use for their products, but they must follow all the other requirements in USDA organic regulations.
USDA standards recognize four categories of organic production: crops, livestock, processed or multi-ingredients products, and wild crops. These products are eligible for organic certification.
To get certified, the USDA provided five basic steps:
1. The farm or business adopts organic practices, selects a USDA-accredited certifying agent, and submits an application and fees to the certifying agent.
2. The certifying agent reviews the application to verify that practices comply with USDA organic regulations.
3. An inspector conducts an on-site inspection of the applicant’s operation.
4. The certifying agent reviews the application and the inspector’s report to determine if the applicant complies with the USDA organic regulations.
5. The certifying agent issues organic certificate.
To maintain organic certification, the certified organic farm or business will go through an annual review and inspection process. The cost of an organic certification may also vary depending on the certifying agent and the size, type, and complexity of the operation.
After being certified, the products that can use the USDA organic seal are raw agricultural commodities that have been certified organic and processed or multi-ingredient products that have been certified organic and contain 95% to 100% organic content. Any operation that violates the USDA organic regulations may include financial penalties up to $11,000 per violation and/or suspension or revocation of an operation’s organic certificate.
Similar to the USDA, Ecocert Organic Standard (EOS) is an organic certification organization. They developed a standardized set of rules on plant production and on the harvesting of wild plants considered as organic production.
To acquire the EOS organic certification on wild plant harvesting, harvest workers are required to submit documented proofs that (1) the harvest area has not been treated for at least 3 years prior to harvesting, with any other products but those approved by EOS and listed in their annexes of fertilizers, amendments, and phytopharmaceuticals, and that (2) the harvesting should not be a “factor of instability for the natural environment or an obstacle to the preservation of species in the harvesting area”.
Upon inspection, operators must provide a detailed Harvest Management Plan, which includes harvesting area, maps, traceability, products, description of the harvesting process and specific rules applicable to the designated collected plant, harvest workers identification, details on local and national rules on harvesting, harvest resources, and processing. Harvesting areas and processing units should be audited at least once a year.
Organic agricultural operations should ultimately maintain or improve soil and water quality, and conserve wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. As farmers and producers stay committed to the organic philosophy, they not only help protect the environment, but also the consumers’ health. This is also why Sekaya ensures its ingredients to be 100% organic from USDA certified organic farms. With Sekaya, health and wellness is certain with every sip.
USDA Organic Certification of Farms and Businesses Producing Agricultural Products
Regulation on Wild Plant Harvesting According to Ecocert Organic Standard (EOS)