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When Would an Organic Farmer Need to be Certified as an Organic Handler?

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Question: When Would an Organic Farmer Need to be Certified as an Organic Handler?
Answer:

Most farmers striving for organic certification are well aware that they need to be certified as a producer. However, in many cases an organic farmer may also need to be certified as an organic handler.

Answer the following question:

Do you grow organic crops, raise livestock, or harvest wild crops and then sell your raw goods directly to a buyer, including consumers at your farm or at the farmers' market, to local restaurants or to grocers?

If you answered yes to the above question than you'll need to be certified as an organic producer but you don't need to be certified as an organic handler.

Answer the following questions:

  • Do you make dairy products, such as butter, cheese or yogurt on your farm?

  • Do you make any value-added crop products such as salsa, jam or roasted tomatoes on your farm that will later be sold to consumers?

  • Do you slaughter organic livestock on your farm? (This is rare, but does happen).

  • Do you pasteurize milk on your farm?

  • Do you unpack and repackage organic foods into different containers?

  • Do you process ANY products not mentioned above on your farm? Note that this is with the understanding that processing refers to cooking, dehydrating, baking, curing, churning, heating, canning, drying, mixing, freezing, grinding, separating, extracting, cutting, fermenting, distilling or preserving food items that will later be sold to consumers.

If you answered yes to one or more of the questions above, there's a good chance you'll need to be certified as an organic producer and also be certified as an organic handler.

Sometimes there are exceptions to duel certification and a producer certification may cover your activities on the farm. As always, the best way to be sure you're following National Organic Program (NOP) regulations is to ask your personal organic certifying agent about what certification you'll need.

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