MARCH 7, 2003:
Here are some of the certification-related questions you’ve
asked us recently, along with responses from our answer team.
What are the organic certification requirements for the production
of potted herbs, annuals and perennials for resale? Are any
commercially produced potting soils available for organic
production? There are no chemicals approved in my state for
the production of potted herbs so can liners be purchased
from non-certified producers for organic production of container
plants? --Barbara Steele
In order to be sold as “organic”, potted herbs,
annuals and perennials must be produced according to the National
Organic Standards. This means that all soil mix ingredients
must be natural, or else on the National List of allowed synthetic
materials. The soil mix may contain ingredients such as soil,
sand, compost, peat, vermiculite, or perlite. The mix may
not contain synthetic fertilizers or synthetic wetting agents.
The NOS does not directly address the type of materials allowed
for the pots, but you should make sure that the pots do not
contain and have not been treated with synthetic fungicides,
preservatives, or fumigants.
in Washington state. Would like to know how to become a Certified
Organic Grower without breaking the bank account. Thanks.
Step 1: Make sure you have good markets for
what you’re growing.
Step 2: Check out this program: As part
of the 2002 Farm Bill, Congress created a National Organic
Certification Cost Share Program which reimburses organic
producers and handlers 75% of their inspection and certification
fees, up to $500/year. Washington State has signed a cooperative
agreement with the USDA where the state will receive $350,000.00
to reimburse qualified operations for costs incurred for certification
to the National Organic Program. Please contact Miles McEvoy,
Washington State Department of Agriculture, at 360-902-1924
to obtain program information and application forms.
I am an organic inspector and got this question from a farmer:
“I am growing oats in my buffer strip. Can I harvest
this for oat seed and use it to plant organic oats the next
year?” What do you think? --Joyce Ford
If a buffer zone is necessary to protect an organic crop from
contamination, due to prohibited materials applied to adjoining
fields, then the crop harvested from the buffer zone is not
organic. Organic producers are required to source organic
seed for organic crops, when the seed is commercially available
in organic form. The only time that seed grown in a buffer
zone could be used to produce an organic crop is if the producer
could document that the equivalent variety is not available
in the form, quality and quantity needed.
What is the current status with the Japanese Ag Service prohibition
of calcium lignin sulfonate? I applied an OMRI approved fertilizer
w/ potassium sulfate and granular rock phosphate to my soybeans
planted in May '02. I first heard about the lignin sulfonate
issue in the May/June issue of the Organic Broadcaster. As
I understand, there are few soil correctives that don't contain
the material in pelletizing process. How did this come about?
Was this a demand made by the JAS? Are there acceptable alternatives
for the industry to use instead of lignin sulfonate? --Robert
The agreement with Japan stipulates that organic products
must be grown without the use of lignin sulfonate, alkali
extracted humic acid, or potassium bicarbonate, in order for
those products to be exported to Japan. Check with your certifier
before you purchase and apply a material. This is especially
true, if you intend to purchase pellitized fertilizers, and
you intend to produce crops likely to be exported to Japan.
My brother-in-law has had about 50 egg layers and is considering
going organic. The question is: without raising his own chicks,
is there a source for organic pullets? --Joe Liccese
Organic poultry must be managed organically from the 2nd
day after hatching. There are sources of organic pullets,
but most grow the pullets for operations with 1000 or more
layers. It may be difficult to find 50 organic pullets. Check
with your regional certification agencies, state departments
of agriculture, Extension Agents, and sustainable farming
associations to find out if organic pullets are available
in your region.
can I find info regarding housing for swine and poultry that
meets organic rules & regs? --Ray Poli
The NOS requires that producers establish and maintain livestock
living conditions which accommodate the health and natural
behavior of animals, including:
- Access to the outdoors, shade, shelter, exercise areas,
fresh air and direct sunlight suitable to the species, its
stage of production, the climate and the environment;
- Access to pasture for ruminants;
- Appropriate clean, dry bedding. If the bedding is typically
consumed by the animal species, it must be organic; and
- Shelter designed to allow for:
• Natural maintenance, comfort behaviors and opportunity
• Temperature level, ventilation and air circulation
suitable to the species; and
• Reduction of potential for livestock injury.
You can find good information on livestock housing by visiting
or by checking out our pig
page for great profiles and information on successful
pastured hog operations, including details on housing.
For a full list of your questions and our
answers as well as some highlighted articles, visit our certification
archives or click on the desired category below.
Allowed and Prohibited Substances