Organic Registration & Certification
The Agricultural Commissioner, in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) Organic Program, enforces the federal Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990, and the California Organic Products Act of 2003. These statutes protect consumers, producers, handlers, processors, and retailers by the establishment of standards under which fresh agricultural products/foods may be labeled and/or sold as “organic.” For more information visit California State Organic Program or the National Organic Program.
Every person engaged in the state of California in the production or handling of raw agricultural products sold as organic, and retailers that are engaged in the production of products sold as organic, and retailers that are engaged in the processing, as defined by the National Organic Program (NOP), of products sold as organic, shall register with the State Organic Program (SOP). Each registrant shall provide a complete copy of its registration to the agricultural commissioner in any county in which the registrant operates. If the expected organic gross sales exceed $5,000, certification is required as well.
Find information, forms, and online registration for new, amended, and renewal organic registrations.
Many small organic farms do not realize the amount of documentation required to be maintained by both the National Organic Program (NOP) and the State Organic Program (SOP). ATTRA has developed a series of free templates to assist farmers with their documentation. Farmers are required to keep records that are "adapted to the operation... disclose all activities and transactions... [are] maintained for not less than three years... and [are] sufficient to demonstrate compliance" (NOP 205.103). Records should provide a complete picture of the farming activities and be readily understood by the inspector. It is important to keep audit-trail documentation that is sufficient to determine the source, transfer of ownership, and transportation of any organic product.
If your annual gross organic sales exceed $5,000, certification is required by law, in addition to registration with the state. To determine if you need to be certified, review the Code of Federal Regulations § 205.100 (PDF). To become certified you may select any accredited agency registered with the California State Organic Program.
- Cost-Share Information for Organic Certification
- List of California Organic Certifying Agencies (PDF)
For general information about organic agriculture and buying organic review the definition of organic farming.