Learn About Transitioning to Organic
Thinking about making the organic jump? The Carolina Farm Stewardship Association created an interactive video series made for farmers thinking about becoming certified organic produce.
USDA-AMS is the agency that administers the National Organic Program, and its website features helpful resources including a review of the basic steps to become a certified organic operation.
For more in-depth information, review the Guide for Organic Crop Producers (PDF) and the Guide for Organic Crop Processors (PDF).
Free Technical Assistance for Organic Transition
In Partnership with The Rodale Institute, the PA Department of Agriculture offers free on-farm technical assistance for Pennsylvania producers interested in transitioning to organic. Rodale provides one-on-one on-farm consultations on these topics and more:
- Organic system plan & certification assistance
- Recordkeeping guidance
- Weed management guidance
- Crop rotation planning
- Equipment advice
- Benchmark soil sample analysis
- Fertility recommendations
- Connection to financial resources
Agricultural Business Development Center
The Agricultural Business Development Center (ABDC) provides free support to Pennsylvania farmers. Free services include sound business planning, strategic farm expansion, diversification of agricultural production, financial and technical expertise and efficient transitions of farm ownership.
The ABDC supports Farm Transitions, linking farmers to the next phase of their life and their farm's future; Beginning Farmers, providing advice and counsel to the next generation of Pennsylvania producers; Risk Management, providing information on crop insurance and other risk management options; and Financial Assistance, connecting farmers with low-interest loan options and reimbursable grant programs.
For more information on these free services: RA-AgBusiness@pa.gov
How to Choose an Organic Certifier
It might be helpful to start out by talking with other organic farmers about their experiences with their certifiers. Ask your fellow farmers some basic questions, such as: does the agency answer quickly and clearly, do they complete the certification process in a timely manner?
Next, call a few of the certification agencies that are at the top of your list, and visit their websites to learn more about their services. Make sure you understand their fee structure by requesting the information upfront, and understand what services are included as fees can vary between certifier. Some certifiers may charge an application fee, some may not. Ask if the fees will increase in the future, or if they generally stay the same year after year.
Find a Certifier:
The following table of Accredited Certifying Agents that work in Pennsylvania is current as of March 2020.