The North Dakota Department of Agriculture provides information about organic agriculture.
Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring has chosen members to be on the Organic Advisory Council that gives advice on organic issues, provides promotional materials, and participates in promotional activities to enhance the industry.
There is also a sensitive area map that includes organic farm locations on the NDDA website which provides information to chemical spray applicators to assist them from spraying on organic crop land. To be added to the sensitive area map, please contact Jim Hansen at 701-425-8454.
For a complete list of organic producers, processors and handlers in North Dakota you can go to the USDA Organic Integrity Database, under State/Province you can type in North Dakota to narrow down your search.
The Department manages the USDA organic certification cost share program. Organic producers can receive up to 75 percent of their certification costs, not to exceed $750, each year as reimbursement for certifying their operation.
If you're looking to transition to organic, the North Dakota organic education and transition cost share program is designed to help farmers and ranchers who are transitioning to an organic production system.
"Organic agriculture as "an ecological production management system that promotes and enhances biodiversity, biological cycles and soil biological activity, which is based on minimal use of off-farm inputs and on management practices that restore, maintain and enhance ecological harmony." USDA National Organic Standards Board definition
Organic food has been grown by working with nature rather than against it, by recycling natural materials to maintain soil fertility and encouraging natural methods of pest and disease control rather than relying on chemical pesticides and fungicides. Organic can also mean caring for the earth and caring for each other with respectful relationships.
When you buy something with the word "organic" on it you can be confident that it was produced without using:
syntheticly produced pesticides
antibiotics, growth hormones, or synthetic parasite controls
fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewage sludge
Organic farming emphasizes the use of:
diverse crops and crop rotations
humane animal husbandry, access to the outdoors, adequate space
the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations
In 1990, Congress passed the Organic Food Production Act, a piece of comprehensive legislation that established National Standards for organic production and handling. This legislation also established the National Organic Program (NOP) to enforce and administer the standards.
Before a product can be labeled "organic," a government-approved certifier annually inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Organic farmers all follow a detailed farm plan designed to meet organic certification standards.
Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too. These companies' facilities are also inspected and certified each year to ensure the organic standards are met.
If you have more questions about what organic means, the USDA National Organic Program website has a great one page explanation. Click this link to visit it! http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop/Consumers/brochure.html
It should be noted that the terms "natural" and "organic" are not interchangeable. The USDA defines "natural" as a product containing no artificial ingredients or added color and is only minimally processed.
What the Organic Seal means
The USDA Organic seal means that food was grown and processed according to the standards established in 2002 under the National Organic Program (NOP). Organic growing and processing practices are verified by USDA approved third-party certifiers. In order for any product to carry the USDA seal or to be called “organic. The USDA rules allows for four categories of organic labels:
100% Organic: May display USDA Organic Seal
Organic: At least 95% of content is organic by weight (excluding water and salt). May display USDA Organic Seal.
Made With Organic: At least 70% of content is organic and the front product panel may display the phrase "Made with Organic" followed by up to three specific ingredients. May not display USDA Organic seal.
Less than 70% of content is organic and may list only those ingredients that are organic on the ingredient panel with no mention of organic on the main panel. May not display USDA Organic seal.
Farmers who gross less than $5,000 from organic products and sell directly to consumers or retailers are exempt from inspection and certification requirements. They must, however, comply with practices approved by the NOP. Those farmers may call their product organic, but they can't use the USDA seal. Those farmers when asked have to provide documentation they are following the NOP guidelines.
Making any changes in your farming practices requires careful thought, planning and study. Organic certification requires that each farm and processing facility have in place a system of tracking where each crop was grown, what practices were used, where and when the product was sold. In addition each farm must have a written farm plan. Exactly what paperwork is required may vary with each certifier. Contact the certifier you or your buyer chooses for more information.
There are several basic steps in the certification process:
Call a USDA accredited certifier and receive application material.
Review material and complete application,
Certification proposal based on application and supporting documentation is provided that outlines the requirements of certification, a time line and a cost estimate approval and payment.
On-site inspection is done annually during the growing season. The inspector assigned to your farm or processing facility will verify all organic related paperwork and organic practices that are outlined in your farm plan are being followed and documented (ex: rotation practices, pest management, erosion and segregation).
A committee reviews all inspection materials. If everything is in compliance with the agency's policies and standards, and approval is given.
The client is then moved into the final certification process, which may include licensing and certificates.
Each certifying agency may have variations on these steps or additional steps in the process. Be aware of the fact that all certifiers have deadlines that need to be met. Contact the certifier of your choice for his/her information and deadlines. For your convenience here is a list of certifiers offering services in North Dakota.
CCOF Certification Services, LLC
2155 Delaware Avenue, Suite 150
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Global Organic Alliance
P.O. Box 530
3185 Township Road 179
Bellefontaine, OH 43311-0530
Midwest Organic Services Association
122 West Jefferson Street
PO Box 821
Viroqua, WI 54665
Minnesota Crop Improvement Association
1900 Hendon Ave
Saint Paul MN 55108
Toll free organic (855) 213-4461
Montana Department of Agriculture Organic Certification Program
302 N Roberts
Helena, MT 59601
Nature's International Certification
PO Box 312
210 Airport Road, Unit 104
Viroqua, WI 54665
PO Box 368
Corvallis, OR 97339
990 Cindy Ln Unit A
Carpinteria, CA 93013
1340 North Cotner Boulevard
Lincoln, NE 68505-1838 USA
Box 100A, RR#3, 475 Valley Road
Saskatoon, SK S7K 3J6
|Quality Assurance International (QAI)
4370 La Jolla Village Drive Suite 300
San Diego, CA 92122
|Where Food Comes From Organic
202 6th Street, STE 400
Castle Rock, CO 80104
Commodity prices organic & conventional
The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service captures prices for organic and conventional products on a bi-weekly basis. This website can give you up to date information on the price premiums one can expect to get when selling organic products. Conventional prices can be found here.
Most organic products are purchased under contract, where the buyer and seller negotiate price and delivery terms of the product being purchased. Forward contracts can eliminate the uncertainty of a shifting market prices. A forward contract can also be seen as a form of insurance, locking in a delivery price for the product grown or raised. Most forward contracts have to be secured before the growing season starts. Careful planning and extra time may be needed by the farmers to seek out and secure a contract, this extra time needs to be factored into the overall marketing plan for the farm. Most analysts would advise against contracting 100 percent of your harvest.
North Dakota State law requires that grain elevators, grain buyers, and hay buyers be licensed and bonded. The North Dakota Public Service Commission’s Licensing Division oversees the licensing and bonding of all grain elevators, facility-based grain buyers, roving grain buyers, and hay buyers. Regulation of these entities is intended to protect the people who sell grain to, or store grain in, the warehouses and is enforced within a framework that minimizes negative economic impacts on related industries and individual entities.
The USDA RMA (Risk Management Agency) continues to broaden the scope of crop insurance options for certified organic products. To learn more about those options, click here.
Farmers learn best from other farmers, it is important to get to know other farmers who are transitioning or are already certified organic to help you. Belonging to a farm organization is a great way to network with other farmers. Two organizations that can provide assistance to transitioning farmers in North Dakota are FARRMS (The Foundation for Agriculture and Rural Resource Management and Sustainability) and NPSAS (Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society).
Regulations and standards
For up-to-date information, visit the National Organic Program.
Does my farm have to be 100 percent organic?
No, there are many farmers in our state that have farms where they raise both certified organic crops/livestock and conventional crops/livestock. These farmers have to have very specific protocols in place to ensure their certified organic production is separated. These protocols and processes will be discussed and documented with your certifier to manage both sides of your operation
How do I get certified?
The transition process to certified organic production can take up to three years. The first three things you are going to want to do is:
Select a certifying agency
Set up a record keeping system
How do I find Certified Organic Seed?
Once you have made the decision to transition all or part of your farm to certified organic production you will need to purchase certified organic seed. This means that the seeds you purchase have to also bear the USDA Certified Organic Seal. Many seed companies offer a line of certified organic seeds make sure you work with your seed supplier and your certifier to make sure you are purchasing certified organic seed for your certified organic operation. As a farmer can you purchase non-certified organic seed? The answer is yes, however in most cases you need to prove to your certifier that the specific seed you are wanting to purchase there is no certified organic option on the market for purchase. In this instance work with your certifier to follow the correct procedures to document the need to purchase non-organic certified seed.
Where can I find assistance in writing a conservation plan?
NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) has many resources available to help producers write a conservation plan for their farm. To learn more about NRCS and their programs, visit their website.