Q&A

DEAR NEW FARM:

I am starting a new organic vegetable farm this season. I want to call the business “Sunshine Organics”, but I'm not going to have time to get certified until next season (or, at the soonest, the end of this one). Do you know if I would be allowed to use that business name before I get my official certification—especially if I don't actually label any of my specific products as “organic”?

Rachel Airmet
Chelan, WA

 

DEAR RACHEL:

Our initial reaction was “no way,” but then we remembered that USDA regulates the label, not the business name. So we asked our friend and former National Organic Standards Board Chairman Jim Riddle. Here’s what Jim had to say.

The use of “organic” in a farm or company name is not prohibited under the NOP. In the preamble to the Final Rule, the USDA said:

“Section 6519(b) of the Act provides the Secretary with the authority to review use of the term, “organic” in agricultural product names and the names of companies that produce agricultural products. While we believe that the term, “organic,” in a brand name context does not inherently imply an organic production or handling claim and, thus, does not inherently constitute a false or misleading statement, we intend to monitor the use of the term in the context of the entire label. We will consult with the FTC and FDA regarding product and company names that may misrepresent the nature of the product and take action on a case-by-case basis.”

I happen to disagree with USDA on this, and believe that the use of the word “organic” in a brand name or company name implies, or directly infers, that the company or product is organic. At any rate, I'm glad to hear that you plan to get certified next year. That way, both USDA and I will be happy!

Jim

 

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