Home > Programs > Bureau of Natural Resources > Division of Agriculture > Organic Certification Program
Division of Agriculture
Organic Certification Program
235 Promenade St.
Providence, RI 02908-5767
Tel: (401) 222-2781 ext. 4516
The Plant Industry Section of the Division of Agriculture and Resource Marketing administers the Rhode Island Organic Certification Program, by which qualified farms and handlers in the state are certified as producing and handling/processing products organically. Beginning in 1990, crops were certified by standards developed by the Rhode Island Organic Certification Committee. Since the USDA AMS National Organic Program (NOP) went into effect in October 2002, the DEM has been an accredited state certification agency certifying according to the NOP Standards. Federal law requires that any raw or processed agricultural product sold, labeled or represented as "100% organic," "organic," or "made with organic" in the US must be produced and handled in accordance with the NOP Standards. Any producer or handler (processor) with gross income from sales of organic agricultural products over $5,000.00 annually is required to be certified by a USDA-accredited certifier. Operations exempt from certification are also required to comply with the production, handling and record-keeping requirements of the Standards. The USDA NOP regulations can be found on the NOP web page.
To be considered for organic certification, a field must have been managed organically following the Standards for the previous three consecutive years. Farmland that has been farmed organically for at least the previous twelve consecutive months can be certified "transitional" while awaiting eligibility to be certified organic. However, produce from a transitional field may not be represented or marketed as organic and may not be used as organic ingredients in other products.
To become certified, a crop or livestock producer must submit an application prior to the submission deadline, and organic handler applications may be submitted at any time with the required documentation to the Division of Agriculture. After these documents are reviewed by the Division and show apparent compliance, the applicant is either notified of a need for submission of additional information or of completeness of the application. When the application documents are complete, an inspector from the Division visits the operation to verify that the organic system plan is being followed in accordance with the Standards. Following inspection, the Division reviews the inspection report and notifies the applicant of any noncompliances or additional information or corrections that may be needed. When the application and organic plan are complete and compliant, the operation can be certified.
Operations certified organic in the handler category are those that process, manufacture or handle organic products. To find out whether an operation should be certified as a handler, read through the questionnaire.
The links below contain fillable, savable forms in PDF format. Updating to the latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader may be necessary to use these forms. For questions about which forms are needed for each category and application type and for application submission deadlines, read How to Apply, and for more information contact the Division of Agriculture by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (401) 222-2781. Mail completed forms and supporting documentation with the $50.00 application fee to the RI DEM Division of Agriculture, 235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908-5767.
The total fee for crops producer, livestock producer and handler category certification or update (continuation) of certification is a nonrefundable $200.00 per operation for all services for one year, regardless of the number of categories of organic or transitional certification.
The fee is due in two stages: nonrefundable $50 due on submission of the application for certification or update (continuation) of certification; nonrefundable $150 due upon invoice prior to inspection of the farm or handling facility.
Fees are pursuant to the RIDEM Organic Certification Program Rules Related to Cultural Practices for Branding Products of the Farm, as amended, and in conformance with the USDA National Organic Program Standards, as amended, including § 205.642 Fees and other charges for certification.
Other Program Requirements
According to the NOP final rule published 11/8/12, certifying agents now are required to conduct annual Periodic Residue Testing of the operations they certify. RIDEM must test samples from at least 1 certified operation annually based on the current total number of RIDEM-certified organic operations. Please be aware that all operators should expect that residue testing may occur at their operation under this program. Links to the amended NOP Standard 205.670 requiring Periodic Residue Testing as well as other related information from NOP are at the bottom of the web page NOP Organic Standards
According to the NOP 2609 Instruction issued 9/12/12, certifying agents now are required to conduct Unannounced Inspections of the operations they certify. RIDEM must conduct at least 1 unannounced inspection of a RIDEM-certified organic operation annually based on the current total number of RIDEM-certified operations. Please be aware that all operators should expect that an unannounced inspection may occur at their operation under this program. Additional information on Unannounced Inspections is available in NOP 2609 Instruction in the NOP Program Handbook
No additional fees are to be charged by the RIDEM Organic Certification Program for Periodic Residue Testing or Unannounced Inspections related to Organic Certification.