CDFA Organic Program Information
NEW! Organic registration and renewals can now be done online. When you receive your renewal information in the mail (approximately 30 days before your registration expires) you will receive instructions on how to access the program. For more information on accessing this convenient new method of registration go to CDFA's website at the following address:
(application packets, general information, complaint forms)
- This will open up a Public Record Request Form
Cost Sharing Program
Organic Program F.A.Q.
- How do I apply to register as an organic producer, handler, or retailer?
The Agricultural Commissioner (CAC) enforces regulations adopted under the National Organic Program (NOP) and registers businesses (producers, handlers, and retailers) prior to sales of organic products with the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA). Organic handlers and retailers must submit an application to the CAC and pay a flat registration fee annually to CDFA. Growers also submit an organic registration application to the CAC for production which includes a required check of pesticide use records. The fee is based on the projected annual gross sales and is required to be submitted with the application. It must be check or money order made out to the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
- When must a producer be certified organic?
After Organic producers have registered they may sell organic products worth up to $5000 without being certified organic. But before a producer can proceed with sales greater than $5000, annually, he must be certified organic.
The certification of producers and handlers is conducted by USDA/CDFA accredited, third party certifiers. Producers and handlers must submit an Organic Systems Plan (OSP) to the certifier for approval. The certifier conducts inspections of growing grounds, facilities, and the required operations records to ascertain that the producer is complying with all of the procedures and practices required by the NOP and then certifies the grower’s OSP. Growers pay the certifier directly and each certifier has a different fee requirement. The Agricultural Commissioner can supply you with a list of third party certifiers.
- How do I find a third party certifier?
- What records does the Agricultural Commissioner keep that can help verify that I am eligible to be a certified organic producer?
The Agricultural Commissioner keeps records of pesticide use reports that producers are required to submit on commercial agricultural products. An Agricultural Inspector will search the pesticide use records to ensure that no prohibited pesticide has been reported on the site where organic production will take place in the past three years.
- What am I required to do as a certified organic producer?
In order to be certified as organic a grower must not have used any agricultural chemical that is prohibited by the National Organic Program for the past three years. The operation must also be certified by a USDA approved third party organization if its gross sales are $5000 or more annually. Certification will not be completed by the certifier unless the producer has registered through the CAC. Once the grower is certified he can market his commodities as “certified organic” and use the USDA organic seal.