How to Get Certified

The National Organic Program regulations were adopted to bring standardization to the use of the term organic. Except for operations whose gross agricultural income from organic sales totals $5,000 or less, farm and processing operations that grow and process organic foods must be certified by USDA-accredited certifying agents. The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is a USDA accredited certifying agent for producers and handlers located in Maryland. MDA also offers a registration program for exempt operations.

The basic certification process for a producer or handler (an operation that receives agricultural products and processes, packages or stores such products):

  1. Submit an application and $500.00 certification fee to MDA. The application outlines the organic plan for the type of operation being certified.
  2. MDA reviews the application to determine if the organic plan appears to be in compliance with the National Organic Program.
  3. If the organic plan appears to be in compliance with the National Organic Program, MDA will call the applicant to schedule an inspection.
  4. MDA reviews the application and inspection report to determine if the operation is in compliance with the standards established by the National Organic Program.
  5. MDA issues a certificate to applicants that have met all the requirements.

Application forms and other information for producers.

Application forms and other information for handlers.

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