To Certify or Not to Certify?

That is the question…

What do you think of USDA organic certification? Have you ever considered alternative modes of certification for your farm products, such as Certified Naturally Grown? Is organic certification burdensome, or worth it? Do different certification schemes confuse consumers? The Associated Press published a story on certification schemes this month. See excerpts from the article below. Or click here to read the full article.

Excerpt: Started by a group of organic farmers in New York’s mid-Hudson Valley as a backlash against federal takeover of the organic program in 2002, Certified Naturally Grown has expanded over the past decade to include more than 700 farms in 47 states, executive director Alice Varon said.

“Certified Naturally Grown is tailored for direct-market farmers producing food without any synthetic chemicals specifically for their local communities,” Varon said. “It’s a particular niche of the agricultural world. It’s not in direct competition with the national organic program.”

Many small farmers previously certified organic by an independent organization have declined to participate in the federal program. They voice a variety of objections: extensive record-keeping requirements; fees that can amount to 6 percent of a small farm’s gross sales; and philosophical objections to joining a monolithic government-run program that also certifies huge operations that ship produce across the country.

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