The Lake County Department of Agriculture is a vital link in maintaining the integrity of organic food production, handling, processing and sales.
The Federal National Organic Program (NOP) addresses the methods, practices, and substances used in producing and handling crops, livestock, and processed agricultural products. Any organic production site, processing or handling operation that intends to sell an agricultural product as organic must adhere to the National Organic Standards.
In California, the marketing of organic products begins with registration with the Agricultural Commissioner in the county of principle production prior to the first sale of organic product.
Producers of raw organic products must be able to affirm that no prohibited materials have been applied to the growing grounds and plants for three years prior to registration or used in the production of livestock prior to the last trimester of gestation.
Handlers and processors of organic products must conform to organic handling practices such as protecting organic products from contact with prohibited substances and preventing the commingling of organic with non-organic products.
Registration is straightforward and fees start at $75 for initial registration and $25 for annual registration renewal payable to California Department of Food and Agriculture.
Operations that sell less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products are exempted from third party certification and preparing an organic system plan. They may label their products as Organic provided they comply with the National Organic Program Regulations.
Operations that sell more than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products are required to be certified as organic by an accredited certifying agent. A list of accredited certifiers may be viewed at the National Organic Program website.