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):
- Submit an application and $500.00 certification fee to MDA. The application outlines the organic plan for the type of operation being certified.
- MDA reviews the application to determine if the organic plan appears to be in compliance with the National Organic Program.
- If the organic plan appears to be in compliance with the National Organic Program, MDA will call the applicant to schedule an inspection.
- MDA reviews the application and inspection report to determine if the operation is in compliance with the standards established by the National Organic Program.
- 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.