National Organic Program

For information about organic certification visit the USDA's National Organic Program Web site.

What is the National Organic Program (NOP)?

It is an USDA federal regulatory program that sets standards for organic agricultural products. It implements the regulations through accrediting certifying agencies. This program is NOT for the promotion of organic agriculture but to ensure consumer protection, and provide uniform national standards.

Who needs to know about the NOP?

Anyone who is interested in certified organic products.

What does organic certification mean?

It means that an accredited certifying agent has determined that a production system meets all the standards of the NOP. All organic producers who gross more than $5,000 annually and are advertising their products as organic are required to be certified.

What should one look for in a certifier?

  • Quality of service. Talk to other farmers in the local area, find out who gives the best quality service, and find out if there are any local certifying agencies.

  • Costs of service. Find out the travel costs and other costs there may be in addition to the certification cost.  Service costs are variable.  Agencies charge an initial certification fee, plus a smaller fee for annual recertification.  Operators typically pay travel costs for inspectors.

  • Meet special certification needs. Find out if they certify for export, and if so, to which countries.  Some agencies specialize in a particular type of production system (greenhouse) or can certify products for export.

What do I do after I find a certifier?

Request the certifier’s application packet. The most important part of the certification process is The Organic System Plan or the “Farm Plan”.  Discuss how an agency will assist in designing a farm plan.

* Certifying agencies are not consultants.  They are independent, 3rd part auditors and can only provide information about the National Organic Standards.  For more information about the National Organic Program, please see the resources listed here or contact your local UF-IFAS County Extension office.

UF/IFAS Publications

State & Federal Agency Publications

Additional Resources