Organic certification can be a long and somewhat complicated process. It's easy to make mistakes that may end up slowing down the certification process or result in your application being denied. Luckily, if you're prepared, you can avoid common mistakes and certification will be a much more seamless process.
How to avoid mistakes!
- Make sure you're eligible for certification.
- Learn as much as you can about organic certification before you apply.
- Find out which steps you should take before starting the application process.
- Check out the new 'Sound and Sensible' certification program which helps remove some of the headaches of certification.
- Write a flawless organic system plan.
- Learn which certification mistakes are the most common so you can avoid them.
- Make sure your application is not denied by finding out what might mess up your application.
Technically you should be getting ready for organic farm tax season year-round. The first step is to keep spotless and very organized organic business records. If you're not sure which records to keep for taxes, check out this list of items you should be recording. You can use a simple business planner to help you keep records better.
Hopefully, you've already been keeping records though which will make tax season much simpler. Below are some tax guides to help you get ready way before the year ends.
If you're interested in an organic-mined career, you have many options. From production to processing to handling mass quantities or organic food and more, organics is a booming industry. A good place to start is your local university. Many schools now have in-depth organic career programs. You can also take a look at the following helpful links...
The site area, Organic Topics of Interest, looks at a few complex issues such as:
- Carrageenan in organic products
- Protecting organic crops from synthetic fertilizers
- Can GMOs Be Used in Organic Products?
- Organic integrity tips
Just an FYI in case any of these questions apply to you and your organic business.
LocalHarvest has plans to launch a new Products & Services Directory in December. Seeing as how over the last 12 months, over 7 million people have visited LocalHarvest, including farmers, home gardeners, home cooks, and other people who are interested in local and organic products, this is a project your organic production business may want to jump on board with.
Some facts about the new Products & Services Directory (PSD)....
- The directory will give your business the opportunity to put your products in front of all of LocalHarvest's many audiences.
- The PSD will eventually be full of products like cookbooks, canning supplies, soil amendments, irrigation supplies, farm estate planning services and the like -- anything that would appeal to sustainable farmers, gardeners, or home cooks.
- The PSD will perhaps operate like an affiliate program, but LocalHarvest is yet not totally clear on this aspect.
- At this point LocalHarvest is focusing on products and services available to a national audience, though eventually we would like to open it up to local and regional services.
Now, if you already have a current listing in the LocalHarvest National Directory nothing should change for you. LocalHarvest notes that they'll continue to promote businesses via the National Directory and there is no need to list in both places.
If you're not listed at LocalHarvest, and would like to be (it's a great idea) contact Erin Barnett, director of the organization at email@example.com.
If you're a consumer (or a business owner) and you're looking for an organic Christmas tree, it can be tough. In recent years more and more organic Christmas tree farms have sprouted up, but they're still far and few. That said, there are a few places you can look. Check out the resources below...
There's more than one way consumers can go organic this holiday season though - beyond the organic tree. Get more tips...
- Celebrate an Organic Christmas
- Save Money on Organic Food During the Holidays
- How to Shop for Real Organic Products (use if you're planning on giving organic gifts this year!)
Photo İfangol via sxc.
- Inner Mongolia Tianfu Food Co., Limited - Hohhot City, China
- Acex Comercio Brazilia aka Acex Brasil Comercio International- Sao Paulo, Brazil
NOP notes that these certificates falsely represent agricultural products as certified organic under the USDA organic regulations - clearly, don't do business with them and if you have any info about these companies, contact the NOP Compliance and Enforcement Division at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you happen to be in Pennsylvania, and you work with K-12 students who are interested in organic agriculture or sustainable farming then Farm Based Education for the 21st Century is an event you may want to attend.
Hosted by Rodale Institute and the Mid-Atlantic Farm-Based Educators Network (FBEN) this networking and practice event is designed for educators who work with K-12 students in agriculture, natural resources, and nutrition education. The event will consist of an awesome day full of lesson sharing, program development, marketing, and a tour of the Rodale Institute.
This low-cost event (just $20!) is open to all educators who are interested in using the farm as a learning environment and lunch and refreshments are included.
To register by phone or email, contact Maria Pop, Education and Outreach Manager, at (610) 683-1481 or email@example.com. The event is taking place on November 15, 2013 at Rodale Institute; 611 Siegfriedale Road, Kutztown, PA 19530.
Did you know that the National Retail Federation estimates that holiday sales may represent up to 40% of a retailer's annual sales?! That's a big chunk of profits you should be focused on. Clearly, mapping out your 2013 holiday marketing goals and plans is a big deal.
This in mind, take a look at Preparing Your Business for the Most Wonderful (Marketing) Time of the Year. You'll find tips about comparing holiday stats from previous years, drafting marketing calendars, bundling products for holiday gift giving, how to adapt and tweak pricing to gain optimum profits and much more.
Now that organic operations are back in full swing after the shutdown, it's time to get back to work on your growers certification process. If you're an organic farmer, there are some things you should consider before you get certified ...
- Are you even eligible for certification?
- Do you have the time and financial resources?
- Do you have the right skills?
- Have you read up on the certification process?
Once you answer the questions above, and are good to go, do the following: