Transitioning farmland to organic

#Three-year transition process

Land is eligible for organic certification three years after the last application of a prohibited material such as fertilizers and pesticides.

What do I need to do to start my transition to organic?

It’s important to keep good, clear records of what happens on your land during the three-year period to show you followed the requirements. This includes documenting materials used on the land (aka, field history) and activity logs. The USDA National Organic Program provides several helpful templates for recordkeeping during transition.

Land is eligible for organic certification three years after the last application of a prohibited material such as fertilizers and pesticides.

What documentation do I need for land eligibility?

You’ll need to provide records that show the last three years of land history, including any materials used or activities taken. If you have not managed the land for all three years, you must provide a written statement or land history record from the previous land manager or owner.

How do conventional seeds affect my cropland eligibility?

As long as you demonstrate the conventional seeds used were untreated — or were treated with an organic-approved material — your land is eligible for certification.

What about prohibited materials used outside of my crop fields such as along a neighbor’s fence or an access road?

You must create or already have an acceptable area (aka, buffer zone) that prevents the prohibited material from coming into contact with your fields.

What if my land is ready to be certified right now?

Some lands, such as fallow or pasture lands, may be immediately certified if three years have already passed.

A period of three (3) years is required to transition from conventional agriculture — or any land without adequate land history records — to certified organic production.

How do I prepare for my first certified harvest?

You may plant a crop destined to be sold as certified organic prior to its organic certification eligibility date. To harvest the crop as organic, all of the following criteria must be met:

  • Crop’s harvest date is after the full 36 months from last prohibited material application
  • Land was inspected by an organic inspector
  • Receive organic certification from OTCO prior to crop sale

#Transitional certification

Oregon Tilth offers a voluntary transitional certification for farms switching to organic.

Transitional certification (TC) can be a marketplace stepping-stone for farms working to meet the requirements for organic certification.

Can I apply for transitional certification when I first start the process?

Your land must be free of prohibited materials for at least nine (9) months before applying for transitional certification. After you complete one year of transition, you’re able to then carry a transitional certification seal. Eligible? Start your transitional certification application here.

Is transitional certification similar to organic certification?

Transitional certification teaches you the ins and outs of organic certification. The rules and standards are the same. Through firsthand experience, you’ll participate in an annual inspection and minimize the risk of non-compliance issues when applying for organic certification in the future. Transitional certification walks you through the necessary documentation required for organic certification.

Does transitional certification help me access the marketplace?

More buyers offer a premium price for products labeled as certified transitional, supporting farmers pursuing organic while creating stronger supply chains for their businesses. Additionally, it provides consumers with verification that your products meet their expectations and needs.

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