The length of the organic transition period varies depending on prior land and livestock management. The National Organic Program Standards are the authority for certifying organic farms in the US.
Any field or farm parcel from which harvested crops are intended to be sold, labeled, or represented as “organic,” must have been managed organically in accordance with the provisions of the regulations.
Land must have had no prohibited substances, as listed in the regulations, applied to it for a period of 3 years immediately preceding harvest of the crop; and have distinct, defined boundaries and buffer zones such as runoff diversions to prevent the unintended application of a prohibited substance to the crop or contact with a prohibited substance applied to adjoining land that is not under organic management.
Livestock products that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic must be from livestock under continuous organic management from the last third of gestation or hatching, except that:
Poultry or edible poultry products must be from poultry that has been under continuous organic management beginning no later than the second day of life.
Milk or milk products must be from animals that have been under continuous organic management beginning no later than 1 year prior to the production of the milk or milk products that are to be sold, labeled, or represented as organic.
Crops and forage from land, included in the organic system plan of a dairy farm, that is in the third year of organic management may be consumed by the dairy animals of the farm during the 12-month period immediately prior to the sale of organic milk and milk products.
Transitioning to Organic Production, SARE Publication, 2003
Transitioning to Organic Production lays out many promising conversion strategies, covering typical organic farming production practices, innovative marketing ideas and federal standards for certified organic crop production. With special sections on livestock production and profiles of four organic producers.
PCO Provides one-on-one transition assistance to farmers through the Transition Membership Program (TMP). Visit our Transition Membership page to learn more about applying for assistance through this program.
For more information on transitioning to organic, please contact the PCO office at 814-422-0251.