Organic is a labeling term for agricultural products, including food and fiber (i.e. clothing), that have been produced in accordance to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) organic regulations. Organic agriculture methods preserve the environment and avoid using most synthetic materials (including pesticide and antibiotics). Organic agricultural producers (farmers, ranchers and food processors) must follow the USDA organic standards which describe how farmers grow crops, raise livestock, and which materials they may and may not use during the course of production. The set of standards for organic farmers and producers, described in the general organic principals of the Organic Foods Production Act, cover all products from farm to table and includes soil and water quality, pest control, livestock practices and rules for food additives.
National Organic Program
Organic farmers and producers must be registered and certified to sell their products as organic. The USDA and its National Organic Program (NOP) ensure the integrity of USDA organic products in the U.S. and throughout the world. It offers guidance on the organic standards including regulations and certification, production, and the handling and labeling of USDA organic products.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Organic Program
The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Organic Program is responsible for the enforcement of the federal Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and the California Organic Products Act of 2003. CDFA works to protect consumers, producers, handlers, processors and retailers under the standards established by these Acts for agricultural products/foods that may be labeled and/or sold as organic.
Federal Organic Regulations
As stated on its website, the United States Government Publishing Office (GPO) is the “Federal Government’s official, digital, secure resource for producing, procuring, cataloging, indexing, authenticating, disseminating, and preserving the official information products of the U.S. Government”. The GPO’s Electronic Code of Federal Regulations for Organic Regulations lists all of the regulations for the Organic Foods Production Act and for the National Organic Program.