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About Organic Certification


Under the federal National Organic Program (NOP), a farm can market its products as organic only if they are certified (unless exempt under the rule). Certification is a process that requires farms to follow certain production practices, keep records, and be inspected by an independent certification agency. Farms that sell less than $5000 per year may be exempt from the requirement for certification, but are still required to follow all recordkeeping and other rules of the NOP in order to describe their products as Organic.  We have identified those who are certified organic with a special symbol , and we list the name of their certification agency.  Certification information can change; ask about current certification status. 

Farms that are not certified organic sometimes say they follow organic practices, or they may have the word ‘organic’ in their farm name. This is not the same as being a Certified Organic farm, so ask questions. If you have concerns about use of pesticides, fertilizers, synthetic chemicals, hormones or other animal treatments, ask the farmer to explain his or her practices. Most farmers will be glad to have an informed and interested customer.

USDA Approved Organic Certification Agencies Appearing in this Guide:

CCOF California Certified Organic Farmers
GOA Global Organic Alliance
ICO Ecocert / Indiana Certified Organic
ICS International Certification Services
MOSA Midwest Organic Services Association
NICS Nature's International Certification Services
OCIA Organic Crop Improvement Association
OCPP OCPP / Pro-Cert Canada Inc.
OEFFA Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association
OTCO Oregon Tilth Certified Organic
QAI Quality Assurance Interntaional











Certified Naturally Grown

In lieu of NOP organic certification, some farms in this guide have chosen to participate in the Certified Naturally Grown (CNG) program.  The requirements for the two are similar, but CNG is a network of local farmers who certify each other rather than a USDA-accredited agency.  It may be a better fit for smaller growers who do not feel they need the "Certified Organic" label.


MAEAP Verficiation

Many of the growers and farmers listed in the guide have also gone through one or more of the three Michigan Agricultural Environmental Assistance Program (MAEAP) programs – Farmstead, Cropping, and Livestock.  After an initial education session, the farm is subjected to an assessment to identify areas that could use updating or improvement to minimize environmental risks and pollution. The farmer then works to correct any of these areas and make necessary improvements.  Finally, the farm is visited by a Verifier who ensures the farmer has implemented environmentally sound practices.  Successful passge through this process results in 'MAEAP Verification' in one or more of the three programs.