The National Organic Program (NOP) has just updated the NOP 2000: "Accreditation Policies and Procedures" document. The updated instruction offers up some general policies and procedures for organizations seeking or maintaining accreditation as NOP certifiers.
NOP notes that now the instruction have been revised with a goal of maximizing the efficiency of the accreditation process and integrating the newer Sound and Sensible principles into accreditation activities.
Download the pdf here: "Accreditation Policies and Procedures" document (pdf).
Just in case you've read one of the older articles on this site, and noticed that some articles note that yeast cannot be certified organic, please note that these pieces have been reflected to show the newer yeast rules.
Need an organic yeast primer? Read up on the current yeast rule here: Can Yeast be Certified Organic?
There are plenty of reasons to go organic - no matter if you're a consumer, farmer or business owner. There's better health, better taste, fewer chemicals, economical benefits and more, but one of the biggest perks of organic products is that organics help conserve and protect planet resources and the environment as a whole. Learn more about some of the killer eco-friendly aspects of organics below!
You can cultivate a farm like a pro, stock organics wisely in your shop or have the best organic online market in town, but if you fail to grow positive interactions with your customers at the same time, your business simply won't be as successful.
The first step is to become an educator. Technically, you don't have to educate anyone. I mean, your organic certifying agent isn't going to show up on your doorstep and say, "Hey, where are your organic information brochures for customers?!" But, providing organic education, in some form, for your customers, will help encourage return customers.
Other useful tips for growing successful organic customer relations include:
- Find out what sort of customers are buying organic products
- Focus on all customers, but pay special attention to local customers. Especially if you're a small-scale grower.
- Get involved in feel-good cause marketing.
Burlington Free Press has an interesting interview with Miles McEvoy, deputy administrator of the USDA's National Organic Program about the current state of organic hydroponic farms.
Among other things, McEvoy notes that hydroponic operations that comply with the current USDA organic regulations for crop production may be certified as organic, but in the future, the National Organic Program (NOP) may need to address hydroponic growing and how current NOP regulations apply to such methods. Additionally, McEvoy addresses why NOP has not acted on the 2010 recommendation from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that hydroponics be excluded from certification. McEvoy states, "The NOP continues to work on evaluating and implementing a backlog of older NOSB recommendations. The NOSB's 2010 recommendation on crop production in containers and enclosures (e.g. greenhouses) recommended that hydroponics not be certifiable. As certifiers and producers apply the current regulations to enclosed production systems, the NOP continues to evaluate the compliance issues and updates its regulatory workplans accordingly."
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been warning growers that soon, some organic growing practices may be outlawed due to safety concerns. Some of these long-used organic practices include including spreading house-made fertilizers, tilling cropland with grazing animals, and irrigating from open creeks. The new one-size fits all rules, including rules for smaller farms and huge operations, came about after food-safety activists persuaded Congress to give the FDA the power to regulate farm practices. Unfortunately, the year after was the big tainted cantaloupe event that killed 33 people, so the FDA started to feel pressured to become more aggressive.
Read the whole story here: Planned food safety rules rile organic farmers
If you've got dreams of opening an organic-minded, or even fully organic restaurant, deli or coffee shop, that's great, but there are also some challenges you'll face. Start with the following two articles.
- 10 excellent reasons to serve organic food at your restaurant
- 8 unique challenges of running an organic restaurant
Wine is just one of the many products that can be certified organic, but if you're producing organic wine, there are some specific National Organic Program (NOP) labeling rules you'll need to follow.
Generally, organic wine must be produced according to NOP policy, must be produced without excluded methods such as genetically modified ingredients or sewage sludge and needs to follow the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) plus production and certification must be overseen by an organic certifying agent. To learn more, check out the article below...
If you're new to the OPR, this handy FREE online tool allows you to get information about current organic prices so that you can price your own organic goods in a competitive manner. The tool tracks selected prices from the fruit, vegetable, herbs and grain sectors, comparing organic prices to conventional prices in markets across the country.
Data for the OPR conventional produce items are gathered at the terminal markets by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), while prices for organic produce are provided by large wholesale distributors or sales agencies. Conventional grain prices are also from AMS and organic grain prices are provided by large elevators or handlers that specialize in organic grains.
According to The Packer, "Organic produce marketers reported generally strong demand and firm prices in January, and some believe the active market is partly related to new years' resolutions."
Jon Steffy, director of sales with Four Seasons Produce, Ephrata, Penn., and author of the Organicproducegeek.com blog, tells The Packer, "We definitely see a bump in January in demand, the biggest factor [being] that people start the new year ready to eat more fruits and vegetables. Maybe they got a juicer over the Christmas holidays and you start doing that for a few weeks and suddenly you are buying a lot of produce." Steffy also notes that many consumers may associate organics with healthier eating habits, something many people concentrate on when making New Year's resolutions.
The Packer further notes that while not all organic prices are above year-ago levels, some produce, such as apples, cucumbers, grapes, strawberries and avocados have seen higher average terminal market prices compared to year-ago levels in mid-January.