We've been asked on numerous occasions why we aren’t Certified Organic or if we plan to Certify. I consider our growing methods and animal care to meet most of the standards of Certified Organic producers. There are a lot of variables in the regulations of Certified Organic that don’t make sense to our operation at this time. The first obstacle for us is the hurdle that keeps most operations like ours from certifying. In speaking with rep from OEFFA, a non-profit company that helps Ohio farmers certify, the rough annual cost for us to become and maintain Organic Certification would be $1500 annually. We would have to have an Organic System Plans that would have to be submitted and updated annually, for each species of livestock we chose to certify. Each plan has a cost associated that sums up to the $1500 total. There is a cost-share program we can apply for but there is no guarantee how long into the future this will be available and the max award of $750 is only available after you pay to certify. At our current operation level, the cost of Organic Certification doesn’t work for our budget.
The second obstacle in becoming Certified Organic for meat production is that to carry a USDA Organic sticker on any meat product the animals must be slaughtered and processed at a Certified Organic butcher. Those are few and far between. The closest Organic Certified poultry processor is King & Sons in Greenville Ohio near the Ohio/Indiana border. We have traveled to King & Sons in the past, they are a very nice facility however it was a 3+ hour drive one way from our little farm. There is currently no Organic pork processors in the state of Ohio. As you can see from my brief description us certifying as an Organic livestock producer is not a very good fit for us. We may work with OEFFA on some transition work to help us know the ins & outs of Organic production but for now, we are not planning to certify. We will still try to go above and beyond the standards.
If you are interested in knowing the full standards; National Organic Practices documentation
There are a couple other certifications we are working towards that have more achievable standards for our little farm. In early 2018 we were awarded a grant based on our commitment to the health and welfare of our animals that will help us meet some of the standards.
Certified Naturally Grown
“CNG farmers don’t use any synthetic herbicides, pesticides, fertilizers, or genetically modified organisms. CNG livestock are raised mostly on pasture and with space for freedom of movement. Feed must be grown without synthetic inputs or genetically modified seeds.”
If you are interested in reading more; CNG Livestock standards
Animal Welfare Approved
“Animal Welfare Approved (AWA) by A Greener World is a food label for meat and dairy products that come from farm animals raised to the highest animal welfare and environmental standards. The program was founded as a market-based solution to the growing consumer demand for meat, eggs and dairy products from animals treated with high welfare and managed with the environment in mind. As a program accredited to ISO guideline 17065, you can trust in the AWA label while making food choices when you can’t visit the farm yourself.”
If you are interested in reading more; AWA requirements