Information on Becoming a Certified Organic Producer
Except for operations whose gross agricultural income from organic sales totals $5,000 or less annually, farm operations that grow and/or process foods that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as “100 percent organic," “organic," or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))" must be certified by a USDA-accredited certifying agent. The Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) is a USDA-accredited certifying agent for producers located in Maryland.
MDA certifies farm operations to NOP standards under the following scopes:
- Wild Crops
- Handling/Processing (small scale, on-farm processing/handling only. MDA does not certify individual handling/processing facilities)
National Organic Program (NOP) Regulations
The first step for any operator interested in organic certification is to become familiar with the NOP standards, which outline the requirements of a certified operation. Click here to access the NOP standards.
Additional information on the USDA National Organic Program can be found on their website by clicking here.
Organic Certification – New Applicants
New applicants for organic certification must develop an Organic System Plan (OSP) in accordance with NOP standards. OSP template forms are found on the right side of this page. To apply for certification, complete all applicable forms and submit them, along with applicable fees, to MDA as outlined in the forms. Recordkeeping templates are also available for your use.
For additional information on the certification process and NOP standards, please review the following documents as you begin to develop your OSP:
New Organic Certification Application Cover Sheet
Navigating the National Organic Program (NOP) – Organic Crops
Additional information can be found on our Organic Resources page.
Organic Certification – Continuing Applicants
Producers currently certified by MDA are required to submit an updated Organic System Plan (OSP) and associated fees by April 1 each year. Annual updates are required to maintain certification. Current OSP template forms can be found on the right side of this page.
Producers Who Qualify for Exemption
Producers who gross $5,000 or less in organic agricultural sales annually are exempt from organic certification. Exempt operations must operate in accordance with all NOP regulations, including recordkeeping requirements.
MDA has created an optional registered exempt program. Producers who qualify and submit the required forms and fees will be listed as a registered exempt operation on MDA's website. Producers who wish to register exempt with MDA should submit an Organic Exempt Applications and associated fees. Exempt registrations must be updated annually to maintain listing on MDA's website. The application form is found on the right side of this page.