by L Coffey · 2012 · Cited by 13 — This guide is an overview of the process of becoming certified organic. It is designed to explain the USDA organic regulations as they apply to livestock

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Guide for Organic Livestock Producers By Linda Co˜ey and Ann H. Baier, National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) Agriculture Specialists November 2012 Section 1 Overview of Organic Certi˚cation and Production Chapters 1-6 ..1Section 2 Pastures and Hay Crops Chapters 7-14 24Section 3 Livestock Chapters 15-25 .44Section 4 Handling of Organic Feed and Livestock Products Chapters 26-30 75Appendix 1 Organic Poultry Considerations .96Appendix 2 Organic Pig Production .99Appendix 3 Organic Cattle, Sheep, and Goats for Meat Production .101 Appendix 4 Cattle, Sheep, and Goats for Dairy 104 Appendix 5 Resources .107 Contents CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION This guide is an overview of the process of becoming certi˜ed organic. It is designed to explain the USDA organic regulations as they apply to livestock producers. If you are also producing crops, you will need the fiGuide for Organic Producersfl to understand the regulations pertaining to the land and to crop production. In addition to explaining the regulations, both guides give examples of the practices that are allowed for organic production. ˚e ˜rst four chapters of the crops guide are essentially the same as the ˜rst four of this guide; they give an introduction to the National Organic Program (NOP), the organic- certi˜cation process, the Organic System Plan (OSP), and much more. You can ˜nd the crops guide and many other helpful publications at . If you have already read the crops guide or if you already are familiar with the certi˜cation process, proceed to Chapter 5, fiOverview of Organic Livestock Systemsfl in this guide. ˚ere are four sections in this guide: Overview of organic certi˜cation and production . Pastures and hay crops Livestock Handling of organic feed and livestock products It also includes a short list of resources and brief summaries of areas of concern for poultry, swine, sheep and goats, cattle, and dairy enterprises as appendices. Who should read this guide? Conventional farmers who are deciding whether they want to become certi˜ed organic Farmers in the process of converting to organic practices This guide uses the term fiUSDA organic regulationsfl and firegulationsfl to refer to the Fed -eral regulations that govern organic crop production, livestock production, handling, pro -cessing, and labeling. Di˜erent terminology often is used in other publications to refer to the same regulations: fiNational Organic Standards,fl fiNOP Final Rule,fl or simply fistandards,fl fiRules,fl or firequirementsfl are common examples. In this guide, some of the section titles in the USDA organic regulations are referred to as fistandardsfl to correspond with the actual textŠfor example, fi§ 2.5.204 Seeds and planting stocks standard.fl The term fistandardfl also is commonly used in relation to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The NOSB is a citizen advisory board that helps the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) determine which substances and practices may be used in certi˚ed organic produc -tion and handling. The NOSB makes recommendations. However, these recommendations are not part of the USDA organic regulations until the USDA decides the appropriate regulatory direction after completing a formal review and receiving public comments. Section 1: Overview of organic certif ication and production

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Page 2 Farmers who are new to organic certi˜cation Farmers who are exempt from certi˜cation because they sell less than $5,000 worth of organic products per year Educators, Extension personnel, and other information providers ˚is guide was designed to be read before you complete an application for certi˜cation. While this is not a required document to read, it may be a helpful tool. How to use this guide To be certi˜ed organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), farms must be man -aged in accordance with the regulations in Title 7, Part 205, of the Code of Federal Regula -tions. Where the USDA logo appears, the text quotes from the regulations. ˚e verbatim text of the regulation language follows the section and paragraph (for example, § 205.203). ˚e verbatim text is followed by an explanation of the regulation. ˚e book icon indicates publications available from ATTRA – National Sustainable Agri -culture Information Service. ATTRA provides farmers and educators with information about sustainable agriculture via toll-free helplines, an extensive Web site, and hundreds of publications. ˚ese publications can be downloaded from the ATTRA Web site, or call the ATTRA helpline to request a print copy. ATTRA™s Web site is . Its English-language helpline number is 800-346-9140; the Spanish-language helpline number is 800-411-3222. Additional useful resources can be found at the end of the book. ˚is icon indicates resources that are available on the Internet. ˚is icon precedes the questions at the end of each chapter. ˚e ques tions serve as a check -list to help you evaluate your farm™s eligibility for organic certi˜cation and identify areas where your practices may need to be changed. Consider each of the questions carefully and place a check in the appropriate Yes, No, or Not Applicable box. Answers that accurately re˛ect your current circumstances will be the most helpful to you. Ideally, most of your checks will be in the Yes boxes. Negative answers may indicate a need to modify your farm practices to comply with the USDA organic regu -lations. When you have questions about whether a particular practice or product is allowed in organic production, consult your certi˜er. ˚is icon at the end of a chapter indicates a place where you can add your own notes.

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Page 3 CHAPTER 2 THE HISTORY OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE Contemporary American organic farming has its roots in the humus-farming move -ments that spread across Great Britain and continental Europe from the 1920s through the 1950s. ˚ese movements evolved largely in response to the increas -ing use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. ˚e proponents of humus farming believed that the highest quality food and the sustainability of agriculture were achieved by fifeed -ing the soil,fl thereby building soil fertility. ˚eir goal was to increase the humusŠthe fully decomposed organic matter that has reached a stable state in the soil. Humus farming was typi˜ed by mixed farms that included livestock, food crops, feed crops, and green manures. Humus farming made little or no use of synthetic commercial fertilizers or pesticides, in part, because healthy soil rendered them unnecessary. ˚e 1960s and 1970s brought more visibility to organic farming in the United States as public concern over pesticide use increased. In the minds of consumers, not using pesticides was an important part of organic agriculture. ˚e growth of the organic indus -try during this era led to the establishment of standards and third-party certi˜cation. ˚ird-party certi˜cation is an assessment process carried out to verify compliance with standards. ˚e assessment (review of plans and on-site inspection) is carried out by an independent, objective third-party certifying agency. As the organic industry expanded during the 1980s, di˝erent certi˜ers developed their own standards and certi˜cation processes. As a result, some certi˜ers did not accept the validity of organic certi˜cation by other certi˜ers. ˚ese disparities among certi˜er standards resulted in barriers to trade, which led many to believe that a consistent set of standards was needed: a single set of U.S. standards for organic production, labeling, and marketing. Eventually, Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990. ˚is act mandated the creation of the NOP, which is part of the U.S. Depart -ment of Agriculture (USDA). ˚e act also created an advisory board of 15 volunteers, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). ˚e NOSB includes organic producers (farm -ers), organic handlers (processors), a retailer, a certifying agent, environmentalists, a scien -tist, and consumer advocates from across the United States. A˙er the NOSB makes a recommendation on a new regulation or standard, there is a review and comment period. ˚e NOP then determines the appropriate regulatory action to carry forward. In addition to the setting of standards (rulemaking), the accreditation of organic certi˜ers is an important task of the NOP. The def inition of organic With regulation came the need for more formal de˜nitions of the term fiorganic.fl In 1995, the NOSB de˜ned organic agriculture as fian ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles, and soil biological activity.fl In 2002, the NOP de˜ned organic agriculture: fiOrganic production (is) a production system that–respond(s) to site-speci˜c conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biological diversityfl [§ 205.2]. Both de˜nitions of organic agriculture above describe organic agriculture as a production system. ˚is systems approach strives to understand how all the parts of the system work together. In a systems approach, the farmer will consider how soil, water, plants, animals, insects, bacteria, fungi, and all other parts of the system can interact to cause problems or prevent them. Related ATTRA publications National Organic Program Compliance Checklist for Producers Organic Standards for Livestock Production: Highlights of the USDA™s National Organic Program Regulations Organic Standards for Crop Production: Highlights of the USDA™s National Organic Program Regulations

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Page 4 ˚e farmer™s management toolkit combines three types of approaches: Cultural (e.g., raising a breed of livestock adapted to the farm™s climate) Biological (e.g., maintaining a dense pasture to prevent weed growth and grazing cattle with sheep to reduce internal parasite problems) Mechanical (e.g., clipping weeds before they can go to seed in pasture) Organic farmers combine these practices into a productive management system that mini -mizes the impact to the o˝-farm environment. All organic farmers share this approach, although their speci˜c objectives and circumstances determine how they implement it. Since its beginning, organic agriculture also has been based on the principle of sustainability. Sustainability can be de˜ned as meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In practice, this means that sustain -able farming includes a focus on building the soil with farm-generated fertility inputs such as cover crops and manures. Many farmers who convert from conventional to organic systems ˜nd over time that as they add organic matter, populations of soil microbes and soil inverte -brates will naturally increase, resulting in a rich, productive soil. ˚is process can take several years. In time, the healthy, biologically active soil will produce healthy plants. ˚e farmers will then need fewer o˝-farm inputs because their crops will be better able to resist drought, diseases, and insects. In addition to building healthy soil, successful organic farmers focus on preventing problems rather than reacting to them. For example, organic farmers prevent insect problems by providing habitat for bene˜cial insects that keep populations of harm -ful insects in check. Livestock producers prevent illness in their animals by providing good nutrition, sanitation, and a low stress environment. ˚is guide provides many more examples in later chapters. ˚e importance of soil building and the need for a systems approach to organic produc -tion are sometimes overlooked or underestimated. For example, a standard practice in con -ventional agriculture is to plant large acreages in a single crop, which is very attractive to insect pests. ˚e farmer monitors insect populations and sprays insecticides when the pop -ulations get high enough to possibly damage the plants. When farmers approach organic agriculture with an fiinput-substitutionfl mentality, they react to high insect populations in the same way: search the list of allowed insecticides and choose which one to spray. ˚is approach can be frustrating to the farmer, however. When it comes to broad-spectrum insecticides, there are fewer tools in the organic toolbox than in the conventional toolbox, and the tools approved for organic use can be more expensive. From this perspective, farm -ers might view organic production as a very limiting approach to farming. Input substitution, however, is not the approach encouraged by the USDA organic regula -tions. ˚is guide explains many techniques to grow healthy pastures and livestock and pre -vent pest outbreaks. Good animal management (including low-stress handling and good nutrition and living conditions) will promote animal health and thus prevent disease. ˚is proactive, rather than reactive, approach will enable farmers to be more successful. As will be explained in later chapters, the regulations require farmers to employ preventive prac -tices for animal health care before they resort to using any medicines, even those allowed for organic livestock. Another approach to organic farming is sometimes referred to as fiorganic by neglect.fl In this approach, essentially no inputs are used. ˚e farmer avoids the use of prohibited chemicals but also neglects the farm-management practices needed to build soil fertility and prevent pest and disease outbreaks. ˚is o˙en results in poor crop quality and pro -ductivity. ˚e regulations encourage active management to maintain or build soil organic matter and enhance biodiversity.

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Page 5 The National Organic Program ˚e USDA organic regulations went into e˝ect in October 2002. ˚ey can be found under Title 7, Part 205, of the Code of Federal Regulations. Title 7 deals with agriculture, one of 50 broad topic areas that are subject to Federal regulation. ˚e regulations include certi˜cation requirements, which producers must meet to sell their products as organic. Organic certi˜cation is the process of verifying compliance with organic regulations. ˚e assessment process is carried out by a third-party certi˜erŠan independent body that is not linked to either the seller (the farmer) or the buyer. Products to be sold as organic in the United States must be certi˜ed organic according to the regulations and must be certi˜ed by a USDA-accredited certifying agency (ACA). ˚ere are about 100 such certi -˜ers currently operating worldwide. Many other countries have their own standards for organic products. Organic produc -ers planning to export their products (or sell them to distributors who may export them) should ask their buyers whether they need to be certi˜ed to additional standards as well as the USDA organic regulations. ˚e USDA organic regulations also include accreditation regulations, which establish the requirements that certi˜ers must meet to issue organic certi˜cates. ˚e processes for farm certi˜cation and certi˜er accreditation are similar: an application that describes the operation™s procedures, an on-site inspection, and a report that indicates any changes that must be made to comply with the regulations. ˚is accreditation process ensures that all certi˜ers apply the regulations in the same way. ˚e NOP maintains a list of ACAs on its Web site. Organic certi˜cation § 205.100 What has to be certi˜ed Under the USDA organic regulations, most operations or portions of operations that produce or handle agricultural products that are intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be certi˚ed. Producers who illegally represent their products as organic may be subject to prosecution and ˚nes of up to $11,000. During the application process, many certi˜ers will require farmers to sign an agreement that they will comply with the organic production and handling regulations in accordance with Title 7 Code of Federal Regulations ( CFR ) Part 205 National Organic Program Rule. § 205.101 Exemptions and exclusions from certi˜cation Producers who market less than $5,000 worth of organic products annually are not required to apply for organic certi˚cation. They must, however, comply with the organic production and handling requirements of the regulations, including recordkeeping (records must be kept for at least 3 years). The products from such noncerti˚ed operations cannot be used as organic ingredients in processed products produced by another operation; such noncerti˚ed products also are not allowed to display the USDA certi˚ed organic seal. Online Resources USDA National Organic Program,

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Page 6 CHAPTER 3 THE CERTIFICATION PROCESS Certi˜cation under the USDA organic regulations is required in order to label, rep -resent, and market qualifying products as organic. ˚e regulations can be found under Title 7, Part 205, of the Code of Federal Regulations. ˚e full text of the USDA organic regulations is available on the NOP Web site, and key portions of the text are excerpted in the ATTRA publications fiOrganic Standards for Crop Productionfl and fiOrganic Standards for Livestock Production.fl ˚e regulations are arranged in outline for -mat, using letters, numbers, and Roman numerals to indicate the level, for exampleŠSec -tion § 205.203 (a)(1)(i). ˚is guide does not include the full text of the USDA organic regulations. Rather, it provides excerpts from the text and an interpretation of the regulations that apply to live -stock operations. You will need to consult additional references, including the fiGuide for Organic Crop Producersfl to learn about organic crop production. ˚ere are two categories of organic operations: producers and handlers. Organic produc -ers may grow crops, collect plants from the wild, or raise livestock. ˚ese farming opera -tions receive an organic-producer certi˜cate. Organic handlers may buy food for resale or processing (slicing, freezing, drying, mixing, blending, etc.). ˚ese operations receive an organic-handler certi˜cate. ˚is guide covers only the regulations for livestock producers. Producers who are selling certi˜ed organic meat will need a certi˜ed organic processor. Some conventional proces -sors will be willing to obtain a handler certi˜cate and process the certi˜ed organic meat as the ˜rst batch of the day, keeping organic meat segregated from noncerti˜ed meat. ˚ey will incur expenses and extra work, but the meat processing itself won™t be di˝erent. To learn more about the requirements for organic processing, see Section 4 of this guide. ˚e certi˜cation process has several steps and o˙en requires 3 to 6 months to complete. ˚e farmer agrees to understand the regulations, be available for inspection, allow the cer -ti˜er access to the farm, and answer all of the certi˜er™s questions. ˚e certi˜er reviews the application, assigns an inspector, reviews the inspection report, and makes the certi˜ca -tion decision. Before beginning the certi˜cation process, it is important to read and understand the regulations. Then consider whether your operation is eligible for organic status, as explained below. Transitioning to organic production A ˜eld is eligible for organic status if no prohibited materials have been applied for a period of 36 months. If, for example, a pasture had been sprayed with a synthetic herbicide for thistle control on August 1, 2010, you could apply for certi˜cation of the pasture on August 2, 2013. If the certi˜cation is approved, grazing the pasture a˙er August 2, 2013, is con -sidered certi˜ed organic feed, as is the hay cut from that ˜eld. Certifying the land is the ˜rst step toward producing certi˜ed organic meat, milk, and eggs. See Chapter 15, fiSource of Animalsfl to learn more about the transition of livestock. To sell crops or livestock as organic, you must have a certi˜cate verifying their organic status. You will need to be able to document all land use and material applications during the transitional time period. See Chapter 4, fiWriting the Organic System Planfl for more information about documentation needed for new sites. Federal laws govern the use of the word fiorganicfl but not the use of the word fitransitional.fl Although it is optional, applying for certi˜cation during the transition period can be an Related ATTRA publications Organic Certi˚cation Process Organic Standards for Crop Production: Excerpts of the USDA™s National Organic Program Regulations Organic Standards for Livestock Production: Excerpts of the USDA™s National Organic Program Regulations Organic Standards for Handling: Excerpts of USDA™s National Organic Program Regulations Organic Field Crops Documentation Forms Organic Market Farm Documentation Forms Preparing for an Organic Inspection: Steps and Checklists

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Page 8 certifiers charge a one-time fee to new applicants to cover administrative and review costs. Annual renewal fees, usually based on the sales of organic products, are assessed each year. ˚e NOP currently operates a cost-share program to help defray the cost of certi˜cation for organic farmers. ˚e program is explained in fiFunding opportunitiesfl on page 11. To allow time for the entire certi˜cation process, submit your application at least 3 to 6 months before the end of the transition period. If you need a certi˜cate more quickly, some certi˜ers will expedite your application for an additional fee. ˚e documents sent to a certi˜er are o˙en collectively called the fiapplication,fl but in reality several separate documents are required: Application Organic System Plan Farm map Field histories for new ˜elds Operator agreement or aˆrmation Report of organic yields and sales ˚e Organic System Plan (OSP) is your opportunity to describe your farm and farming operation to a person who has never seen it. Understanding what your certi˜er needs and why they need it will make the process easier. ˚e next chapter will explain more about how to develop the OSP and the farm map that must accompany it. ˚e person who signs the operator agreement agrees to adhere to the USDA organic reg -ulations and aˆrms that the information supplied to the certi˜er is correct. ˚is agree -ment must be signed by the person who has responsibility for making decisions about the operationŠtypically the farm owner. New applicants will be asked to estimate their projected organic sales. Upon renewal of certi˜cation, farmers are required to report the yield and sales of organic products. Ordinarily, the sales are reported in the calendar year during which the money is col -lected. For example, the income from hay harvested in June, and stored and sold the following January would be reported as income in January. ˚ere are several reasons for collecting information on yield and sales. Audits can be used to discover fraudŠfor example, conventional lambs sold as organic or larger quantities of hay sold as organic than were grown on the farm. Sales also are used to determine annual certi˜cation fees; typically, larger operations pay higher fees. 2. ˜e certi˚er reviews the application ˚e certi˜er reads the farm plan and determines whether the practices are described in suˆcient detail and whether the farm appears to meet organic regulations. ˚ere are cases in which applications are denied or delayed. For example, if a farmer sprayed her -bicides in March 2010 and applied for certi˜cation in April 2010, the application would be denied for 2010. If there were clear documentation of organic management from that time on, the land in question could be certi˜ed organic in April 2013. If you are purchasing or renting land that is not currently certi˜ed and you wish to doc -ument that it has not had prohibited substances applied, you must obtain veri˜cation from the previous landowner or manager. Some certi˜ers require documentation by the local county Agricultural Commissioner who keeps pesticide-use records in States that require 100 percent reporting of materials registered by the U.S. Environmental Protec -tion Agency (EPA).

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Page 9 3. ˜e inspector visits the farm Every organic farm must be inspected each year. ˚e individual who conducts the inspectionŠthe organic inspectorŠrepresents the certifying agent. In addition to look -ing for any violations, it is the inspector™s responsibility to verify that the system plan accurately re˛ects the operation and that the farmer is following the plan. Organic inspectors are trained to look critically at all aspects of an organic operation and to maintain strict con˜dentiality. Information you provide about yield, sales, or farm prac -tices will not be shared with anyone except the certi˜er. During the inspection, you must allow the inspector complete access to your opera -tion, including all production facilities and oˆces. Additional inspections may be either announced or unannounced at the discretion of the certi˜er or the State organic program. One of the most important responsibilities of the inspector is to examine records that document your farming practices. (See Chapter 27 for more about recordkeeping.) ˚e records the inspector will look at include, but are not limited to, the following: Land Š Invoices for material purchases Š Records of material applications Š Records of yield, harvest, and organic sales of crops Livestock Organic certi˜cates for purchased livestock Š Sales and purchase records for livestock and products Š Inventory list showing organic or conventional status Š Breeding, birth, and health records Feeding records Š Feeding plans for all species and all classes of animals Š Harvest and storage records for feed grown on-farm Š Feed-purchase records (invoices, tags, labels, and organic certi˜cates) For ruminant livestock Š Grazing records (see Chapter 13) Š Dry matter intake calculations and sources of dry matter intake values Š Records of days on pasture, pasture management, among others ˚e inspector will perform several spot-check audits to assess whether your records are complete and within the realm of possibility. For example, could you actually have produced and sold that quantity of organic product? Can you easily check the status of lamb #819? Could you have grazed 100 cows on that amount of acreage? Records must be fairly well organized to make these audits as painless as possible. ATTRA has a set of forms, the fiOrganic Livestock Documentation Forms,fl which pro -ducers can download or request by telephone. Call 800-346-9140 or visit the ATTRA Web site at . ˚e inspector can explain the regulations but is not allowed to provide advice on how to farm or how to overcome identi˜ed barriers to certi˜cation. ˚is separation between the farmer and the certi˜er maintains the fiindependent third partyfl nature of the transac -tion. Similarly, inspectors are not allowed to accept gi˙s of food or other gi˙s because it may appear to compromise their independent status. During the inspection, the inspector will do the following: Ask questions about your operation Visit each ˜eld, pen, and production area

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Page 10 Check feed-storage areas Look over all the livestock to assess animal health and living conditions Examine records and perform audits Point out during an exit interview at the end of the inspection any areas where the farm may not meet regulations A˙er the inspection, the inspector will write a report and send it to the certi˜cation agency, typically within 2 weeks. 4. ˜e certi˚er reviews the inspection report ˚e certi˜er reviews the inspection report and decides whether the farm meets organic regulations. ˚e reviewer will pay particular attention to any issues mentioned in the exit interview and will decide the seriousness of those issues. If your farm is in com -pliance, you will receive a letter along with an organic certi˜cate. More commonly, especially for a ˜rst inspection, there will be some issues that need to be addressed. In that case, certi˜cation will be delayed until the problems are corrected. ˚e speci˜c areas of concern should not be a surprise to the farmer because the inspector should have discussed them during the exit interview. One thing that o˙en is a surprise is the formal language of the letter, which is written as a Notice of Noncompliance. O˙en, the speci˜c issues are easily corrected, and you can receive organic certi˜cation once you resolve them. ˚ere are several types of letters that new applicants may receive from their certi˜ers: Organic Certi˚cate. Issued if the operation is in compliance with the regulations. Certi˜cate with Conditions or requests for further information. Issued if the oper -ation needs to provide additional information or correct minor practices. Notice of Noncompliance. Issued when there is something threatening the organic integrity of the product, but which may be correctable. Notice of Denial of Certi˚cation. Issued to new applicants if there are major non -compliance issues that cannot be corrected. For example, if a crop duster acciden -tally applied a synthetic fungicide to your organic ˜eld, the application for organic certi˜cation would be denied because the incident would be an application of a prohibited material. Notice of Proposed Suspension. Issued when there are major noncompliance issues during the renewal of certi˜cation. ˚e producer is provided an opportunity to appeal. Otherwise, the organic certi˜cation is suspended. Notice of Proposed Revocation If you receive a letter that contains technical language you do not understand, call your certi˜er for clari˜cation. You may also call ATTRA for advice on how to resolve an issue and bring your operation into compliance. 5. ˜e certi˚er issues the organic certi˚cate Once granted, certi˜cation remains in e˝ect until it is surrendered by the producer or handler, suspended, or revoked. Any action to suspend or revoke certi˜cation must be handled in the manner prescribed in the USDA organic regulations in § 205.660 through § 205.664. If the status of your certi˜cation is threatened and you wish to dispute the charge, the process for seeking mediation is speci˜cally covered under § 205.663. Fur -ther details of these provisions will not be addressed in this guide, but you should be aware that a formal grievance process exists.

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Page 11 Renewal Organic operations are required to renew their certi˜cation each year or surrender it. Certi˜cation may be suspended if it is not renewed. ˚e renewal process comprises the following steps: Update the OSP Sign an operator agreement Address all issues, requests for information or documentation, or noncompliance issues that have not been resolved Pay the annual certi˜cation fees Have an annual inspection Funding opportunities As of this writing, there are two Federal programs that reimburse farmers for some of the costs of transitioning to organic production methods and paying certi˜cation fees. ˚e NOP administers a cost-share program for certi˜cation assistance that is available to certi -˜ed organic operators. ˚e program reimburses farmers and handlers a percentage of their certi˜cation fees. ˚e application process is simple. More information is available at www. . Information also is available from your certi˜er, the NOP, or ATTRA. In addition to the NOP, the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) pro -vides funding to farmers as they implement practices that conserve natural resources. ˚is program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), has a special section for organic farmers because many organic practices focus on soil conservation. ˚is program o˝ers an opportunity for organic producers to receive substantial grant funding. More information is available at . The meaning of organic certif ication Organic certi˜cation is a process claim, not a product claim, and it assures the consumer that the organic farmer followed the requirements and restrictions spelled out in the USDA organic regulations. Organic certi˜cation does not guarantee that the product is completely free of all pesticide residues or genetically modi˜ed organism (GMO) contamination. Questions Do you have easy access to the USDA organic regulations? If you are now growing feed, including pasture for grazing your organic livestock, has your land been free of prohibited substances for a minimum of 36 months prior to harvest? Did you advise your certi˜er(s) of any previous applications for certi˜cation? If you are renewing your certi˜cation, have you addressed all noncompliance issues and conditions previously noted by the certi˜er? Are you documenting the harvest, yield, and sale of all organic crops and livestock? See fiRecordkeepingfl in Chapter 27 for details of the extensive records needed to substanti -ate organic claims. Are you saving purchase receipts for all inputs? Are you documenting the applications of fertilizers and pest-control materials?

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