The answer is yes and here are the
details; the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will accredit State,
private, and foreign organizations or persons to become "certifying agents."
Certifying agents will certify that production and handling practices
meet the national standards.
Who needs to be certified?
Operations or portions of operations that produce or handle agricultural
products that are intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as "100
percent organic," "organic," or "made with organic ingredients" or food
Who does NOT need to be certified?
Farms and handling operations that sell less than $5,000 a year in organic
agricultural products. Although exempt from certification, these producers
and handlers must abide by the national standards for organic products
and may label their products as organic. Handlers, including final retailers,
that do not process or repackage products. Handlers that only handle products
with less than 70 percent organic ingredients. A handling operation or
portion of an operation that is a retail food establishment that processes
or prepares, on the premises of the establishment, raw and ready-to-eat
food labeled organic. A handling operation that chooses to use the word
organic only on the information panel. A handling operation that handles
products that are packaged or otherwise enclosed in a container prior
to being received by the operation and remain in the same package.
How will farmers and handlers become certified?
An applicant will submit specific information to an accredited certifying
agent. Information will include:
Type of operation. History of substances applied to land for the previous
3 years. Organic products being grown, raised, or processed. Applicant's
organic plan, which includes practices and substances used in production.
The organic plan also must describe the monitoring practices to be performed
to verify that the plan is effectively implemented, the record-keeping
system, and the practices to prevent commingling of organic and nonorganic
products and to prevent contact of products with prohibited substances.
Applicants for certification will have to keep accurate post-certification
records for 5 years concerning the production, harvesting, and handling
of agricultural products that are to be sold as organic.
These records should document that the operation is in compliance with
the regulations and verify the information provided to the certifying
agent. Access to these records must be provided to authorized representatives
of USDA, including the certifying agent.
Inspection and certification process
Certifying agents will review applications for certification eligibility.
A qualified inspector will conduct an on-site inspection of the applicant's
operation. Inspections will be scheduled when the inspector can observe
the practices used to produce or handle organic products and talk to someone
knowledgeable about the operation.
The certifying agent will review the information submitted by the applicant
and the inspector's report. If this information shows that the applicant
is complying with the relevant standards and requirements, the certifying
agent will grant certification and issue a certificate. Certification
will remain in effect until terminated, either voluntarily or through
the enforcement process.
Annual inspections will be conducted of each certified operation, and
updates of information will be provided annually to the certifying agent
in advance of conducting these inspections. Certifying agents must be
notified by a producer immediately of any changes affecting an operation's
compliance with the regulations, such as application of a prohibited pesticide
to a field.
Compliance review and enforcement measures
The rule will permit USDA or the certifying agent to conduct unannounced
inspections at any time to adequately enforce the regulations. The Organic
Foods Production Act also requires that residue tests be performed to
help in enforcement of the regulations. Certifying agents and USDA will
conduct residue tests of organically produced products when there is reason
to believe that they have been contaminated with prohibited substances.
If any detectable residues are present an investigation will be conducted
to determine their source.
Source; USDA National Organic Program