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”?
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!
us with comments, suggestions and questions.