USDA Organic Certification
The USDA organic seal is an official mark of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). It was first published with the implementation of the National Organic Program – Final Rule. Since then, the seal has become a highly sought-after labeling mark in the world of agricultural products and has appeared on millions of labels, advertisements, and marketing materials.
Only products that have been certified as meeting the USDA’s requirements for organic production and handling may carry the USDA Organic Seal.
The National Organic Program (NOP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has regulatory oversight responsibilities over the USDA organic standards and the accreditation of organic certifying agents. The NOP also has authority to take appropriate legal action to enforce the organic standards and thus protect the integrity of the USDA organic standards, from farm to market, around the world.
USDA Organic is a labeling term for food or other agricultural products that have been produced using cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that support the cycling of on-farm resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity in accordance with the USDA organic regulations. This means that organic operations must maintain or enhance soil and water quality, while also conserving wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife. Synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, irradiation, and genetic engineering may not be used.
Eighty certifying agents are currently USDA-accredited and authorized to certify operations to the USDA organic standards. Of these, 48 are based in the U.S. and 32 are based in foreign countries. Most certifying agents are directly accredited by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).