The National Organic Program (NOP) is a federal legislative system for organic food in the United States of America. It is also named after the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) system responsible for the management and implementation of the regulatory structure. The central mission of the NOP is to safeguard the dignity of the organic USDA seal. The seal is used for products that comply with USDA requirements and contain at least 95% organic ingredients.
In general, if you are one of the following, you might be eligible for organic certification.
a. Commercial producer of organic crops or livestock
b. Organic fruit, feed, fiber or textiles
c. Seller of organic goods such as a broker, packer, wholesaler or distributor
d. Restaurant owner who sells organic food
e. Retailer who deals in organic foods or products
f. Marketer of Organic goods
g. Brand owner who produces organic products
But not everybody is eligible to be certified under the USDA (NOP) Certification Program. The product must comply with the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances.
This list tells you which synthetic and non-synthetic substances may or may not be used in organic processing and handling operations. You can also be restricted or excluded from organic certification on the basis of a variety of USDA regulations.
USDA organic certification is an ongoing process that needs dedication. Getting certified means making a long-term commitment to the organic process and can be time-consuming.
For example, do you know that in certain situations, if you want to become certified organic, you have to comply years in advance?
The requirements of the National Organic Program allow organic crops to be grown on land free of banned pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers for three years prior to production.
There are a lot of things to think about as well. Becoming certified organic means taking the whole project into consideration, not just the final product.
If you have taken the time and effort to ensure that your manufacturing or distribution process is genuinely organic, the actual certification process is relatively straightforward.
Although variations exist due to different circumstances, USDA organic certification can usually be divided into three phases. Organic certification requires the application process, the business and the testing and certification of the drug.
STEP 1: APPLICATION PROCESS
If you are preparing to advertise your product as organic, you must be approved by an authorized National Organic Program (NOP) agent. First of all, select your organic certification handler. Download and fill out the application form for your handler. After the agent reviews your application and determines that you comply with the NOP regulations and requirements, your agent will arrange a site inspection.
STEP 2: INSPECTION
A reliable organic certification agent will also schedule an on-site inspection to inspect your organic production and processing facility. The review shall be performed to ensure that the application information is correct and reliable. Your inspector will need to see your process and will want to verify that zero banned substances have come into contact with your product. Once the inspection comes to an end, the supervisor will hold an exit interview with you, asking you about any issues.
STEP 3: CERTIFICATION
After your inspection takes place, your inspector will write a report based on his or her findings. The report, applicant file, and exit interview are again reviewed to ensure National Organic Program (NOP) compliance. If your organic certification agent has zero concerns and all fees have been paid, you'll be allowed to label your product or company as USDA Certified Organic. If there are minor concerns, you may be certified if you agree to solve the concerns within an appropriate time-frame.
Your organic certification will stay valid indefinitely if there are no issues with it. The only way to lose your certification is if you voluntarily withdraw your certification or if your certification is suspended or revoked by a Certifying Officer, a State Organic Program Officer or an Administrator for violation of the Act or the NOP Regulations.
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