Organic Certification Program

Certified Maryland Organic Farms

The word "organic" means many things to many people. However, it is a legal term which is defined and governed by the United States Department of Agriculture. Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge; bioengineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled "organic," a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified too.

Organic certification means anyone who produces, processes or handles organic agricultural products must be certified by a USDA-accredited certifier in order to sell, label or represent their products as "organic." Organic certification is not a guaranty of quality or purity of the product. Rather, it is evidence of the operation's adherence to a prescribed system of agriculture and food production.

The Maryland Organic Certification program is designed to provide assurance to consumers who purchase organic products that the products were grown according to the national organic standards. The Maryland Department of Agriculture is accredited by the USDA for compliance with the National Organic Program.​