There are many resources available to simplify your organic planning process.
Below, we’ve provided a list of our favorites by category. We hope to introduce you to tools that will help in your certification journey.
Click a topic below to jump to a specific category.
Strengthening Organic Enforcement
“What is SOE, and how does it affect me?”
USDA Strengthening Organic Enforcement Website
This official USDA webpage summarizes the SOE Final Rule, lists the National Organic Program’s contact information, and links multiple supporting documents and informational events. Got questions? You can find answers on this webpage.
National Organic Program SOE Primer
To help organic certifiers and operations comply with the rule, NOP has published a new SOE reference resource online. These resources provide a quick guide to changes in the code of federal regulations (CFR) references resulting from SOE.
“Are You SOE Ready?” Quiz
Are you wondering if your business needs to be certified organic as of March 19, 2024 under the USDA’s Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) Rule? The Organic Trade Association developed a quiz to answer your question! Find out if you’re exempt by clicking below.
3-Page SOE Summary
Want a quick summary of the SOE final rule? The Organic Trade Association (OTA) put together this 3-page document to cover the policy update’s main points. It includes links to the SOE Final Rule’s full text, USDA webpage (see above), and OTA’s website and resources.
“Where can I learn more about certification?”
National Organic Program
The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) offers a wealth of knowledge about organic certification. This website helps you answer the question, “Is organic an option for me?” You’ll find links to videos, training modules, and other resources that explain the certification process step-by-step.
Organic Integrity Learning Center
The Organic Integrity Learning Center (OILC) is a free online training platform. Create a free account and choose from over 30 courses that cover a range of USDA Organic topics. Learn the essentials of the organic system, find out what to expect during an inspection, and more! Click the button below to see everything you need to know to get started.
Transition to Organic
“Where can I get assistance with transitioning to organic?”
Organic Transition Initiative
Before crops can be certified organic, farmers must carefully manage their land without using prohibited inputs like synthetic pesticides for 36 months. During this transition period and during the first years after certification, farmers often face many technical and market challenges. The Organic Transition Initiative (OTI) is a $300 million multi-agency USDA effort to support this transition and build and strengthen organic markets.
Transition to Organic Partnership Program
TOPP is a collaborative effort involving many partners working together towards a common goal. The TOPP partnership network covers six regions: the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Plains, Northwest, and West/Southwest. Organizations in these regions are actively forming partnerships to serve transitioning and existing organic farmers. Over time, technical assistance resources will be made available to all candidate and existing organic farmers through the USDA website.
Regulations & Guidance
“Where can I find the official rules regarding a topic?”
USDA Organic Regulations
Find the official USDA organic regulations here. This is the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 205. Use the Table of Contents to quickly navigate the document by topic. You can also see any recent changes made to the regulations. Need to remember a part of the regulations? You can save and/or print sections as you see fit as well.
National Organic Program Handbook
The National Organic Program (NOP) Handbook aims to provide those who own, manage, or certify organic operations with guidance, instructions, and policy memos to assist in complying with the NOP regulations. Click through the interactive PDF’s section titles to gain insight on topics that may apply to your organic operation.
USDA International Trade Arrangements
Learn who the United States has as trade partners and understand the international trade arrangements in place for organic products. Read through the organic equivalency arrangements according to your operation’s physical location. These resources will show you how maintain compliance during the exportation and/or importation of your organic products.
Organic Enforcement Activity
This webpage explains how the USDA handles administrative and judicial proceedings to resolve noncompliance notices or to implement a proposed action such as a Cease-and-Desist Notice or a Proposed Suspension or Revocation.
EU Organic Regulations
This European Commission webpage details legislation for the organics sector including legal acts, production and labeling, controls, and trade.
“What financial resources are available?”
Organic Certification Cost Share Program
This program provides cost share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products who are obtaining or renewing their National Organic Program (NOP) certification. Certified operations may receive up to 75% of their certification costs paid during the program year, not to exceed $750 per certification scope. Click below to learn more and apply.
National Resource Conservation Service
The National Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) can help organic producers develop a conservation plan that meets their goals, and can often help with financial assistance to implement elements of the plan. Organic producers may apply for all NRCS financial assistance programs. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program – Organic Initiative specifically targets organic producers. Though payment is lower, there is less competition for ranking in the organic pool. Each state and area has unique ranking criteria due to local conservation issues.
Local Agriculture Market Program
The Local Agriculture Market Program (LAMP) supports the development, coordination, and expansion of direct producer-to-consumer marketing; local and regional food markets and enterprises; and value-added agricultural products. LAMP is an umbrella program created in the 2018 Farm Bill that encompasses the Farmers Market Promotion Program, Local Food Promotion Program, Regional Food System Partnerships Program, and Value-Added Producer Grants Program.
Specialty Crop Block Grant Program
The purpose of the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program (SCBGP) is to enhance the competitiveness of specialty crops. Specialty crops are defined as “fruits, vegetables, tree nuts, dried fruits, horticulture, and nursery crops (including floriculture).”
Organic Farming Research Foundation Grant Program
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) Grant Program has awarded hundreds of grants to organic researchers and farmers in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. All OFRF-funded research must involve farmers or ranchers in project design and implementation, take place on certified organic land, and include strong education and outreach components.
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Grants
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) offers competitive grants to fund research and education projects that advance sustainable agriculture practices in the United States. Click below to learn about eligibility and how to apply.
Find Organic Operations
“What organic suppliers are in my area? How can I check the organic certification status of an operation?”
Organic Integrity Database
Find a certified organic farm or business, or search for an operation with specific characteristics. Listings on the Organic Integrity Database (OID) come from USDA-accredited certifying agents. You can use this website to find organic suppliers of a specific product, do market research for organic products in your area, check on the certification status of a particular operation, and more!
“What fertilizers, insecticides, sanitizers, etc. can I use?”
The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, often referred to as the National List, is a section of the federal organic standards under the National Organic Program. This is the best place to find what substances (fertilizers, insecticides, sanitizers, etc.) are allowed and prohibited for use in organic production and handling operations. These substances are widely known as inputs, since they’re substances that you put into an organic system.
Organic Materials Review Institute
The Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is an organization that has a user-friendly, searchable list of input products that are allowed for use in organic production and processing according to the USDA National Organic Program, Canadian Organic Standards, and Mexican Organic Products Law. Watch this video tutorial to learn how to use OMRI’s online list of inputs.
“Where can I find organic seeds and information about seed saving?”
The Beginning Farmers website lists multiple organic seed companies directly on their Organic Seed Sources webpage. The page also offers links to searchable organic seed databases for further research. Click below to find an organic seed supplier!
Organic Seed Alliance
Organic Seed Alliance is a nonprofit that serves growers working with seed across the US at any scale through participatory research, practical education, policy advocacy, and network development. Their website offers an organic seed producers directory and practical how-to publications about seed saving.
“How do I avoid common noncompliances?”
Rodale Institute YouTube
Want to learn common grower and/or livestock non-compliances and how to avoid them? Get ready for your next inspection by clicking on the free videos below. A panel of experts from Rodale Institute, EcoCert ICO, and Pennsylvania Certified Organic will share their years of regulatory experience to help you maintain organic compliance. Check out the entire YouTube channel for even more helpful content.
“Where can I find articles, videos, and other resources to help my organic operation?”
USDA Organic Farmers
This webpage on the USDA website provides insight into what organic agriculture is and what resources are available. Find links to the organic standards, USDA research, as well as resources for historically underserved farmers/ranchers and urban growers. There’s also information about the Organic Transition Initiative.
The National Center for Appropriate Technology’s ATTRA Sustainable Agriculture program is a trusted source of sustainable and organic agriculture information and maintains a knowledge base of practical multimedia resources for farmers, ranchers, and educators. Click below to see their organic resource library that features topics such as organic certification, organic regulations, and organic practices.
This is the public website of the Organic Agriculture Community of the Extension Foundation. Click below to find organic articles, webinars, videos, and more. You can also submit questions through their “Ask an Expert” feature. eOrganic’s mission is to foster a research and outreach community, engage farmers and agricultural professionals through trainings and publications, and support research and outreach projects.
Black Farmers Index
Black Farmers Index started as a solutions-based journalism project launched by Ark Republic on April 14, 2020 as a way to provide a small list of Black farmers to address the rising issues of food security during the global pandemic. Initially, the list was 150 farmers. Today we have over 1,000 row crop farmers, ranchers, poultry farmers, vegetable and fruit producers, grains and nut harvesters, beekeepers, fisherfolk, oystermen, foresters, foragers, vinters and more.
Organic Farming Research Foundation
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. They cultivate organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production. Here you can find online courses, publications, videos, and more for organic and transitioning to organic production.
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education
Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) offers a range of organic production resources on topics such as pest management, seeds, fertility management, tillage, animal systems, marketing, transitioning to organic, and more.