Organic Farming Compliance Handbook

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Table of Contents


Purpose and Use of this Manual
The National Organic Program (NOP) Rule has helped to confer both clarity and legitimacy to the meaning of the term “certified organic.” Both organic producers and the agricultural professionals who serve their needs now have a clear, consistent standard of identity that is backed by the Federal government. As the number of organic farmers and ranchers continues to increase and acreage in certified organic production expands in the Western Region, more Cooperative Extension professionals and federal agency field personnel are being asked questions related to certified organic production practices, particularly with regard to allowable materials, and certification rules and procedures.

This manual includes materials for use by agricultural professionals interested in what methods, materials, and practices are compatible and consistent with organic standards. Materials were assembled from the most current national, regional, and local sources.

Our objectives with this manual are to:

  • provide Western region extension personnel and federal and state agricultural professionals a clear understanding of effective practices, materials, and processes that comply with organic standards.
  • give Western region agricultural professionals access to expertise and informational resources on organic farming that will enable them to stay current on the most effective organic practices and materials.
  • enable Western region extension personnel to adequately answer questions from their clientele regarding effective practices that meet organic standards.

The extension service is an appropriate provider of such advice and recommendations, and has this as part of its core mission. However, to do so, farm advisors, county agents, and other agency personnel need to become familiar with the standards and practices that organic producers must meet, as well as the best sources of information to handle on-going requests.

This manual was adapted from a binder of materials developed for a workshop on organic farming held in February, 2004, in McMinnville, Oregon. The online version is organized in 8 major sections, corresponding to binder tabs and re-edited for easy navigation on our website.

When users click on the tab for each major section, they are taken to the list of resources available under that heading. All items on the list can be immediately accessed as PDF files. The resources in each section include original papers developed as part of this project, as well as publications available from other Web sites. All are aimed at helping agricultural professionals understand the fundamentals of organic agriculture and provide advice that enables producers to meet the organic standards. We have provided what is to the best of our knowledge the most current information regarding compliance with the NOP Rule.

Questions from a producer regarding organic certification compliance -- particularly with respect to the use of materials and methods -- should always be directed to the certifier of that producer’s operation. Final production and marketing decisions are the individual producer’s responsibility. This manual can help Western extension professionals assist producers to make such decisions.


Brief History of Organic Farming and the National Organic Program (PDF 21.5 KB)
An essay on the origins, establishment, development, and growth of organic food in the region.

Organic Farming Research in the Pacific Northwest: Challenges, Opportunities, and Outlook (PDF 71.3 KB)
History, current status, current body of knowledge, on-going projects with reference to specific production systems and challenges, lessons learned, and outlook for organic farming in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.



  • Brian Baker
    Organic Materials Review Institute
    Eugene, OR
  • David Granatstein
    Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources
    Pullman, WA
  • Laura Morrison
    Organic Materials Review Institute
    Eugene, OR
  • Alex Stone
    Oregon State University Horticulture Department
    Corvallis, OR
  • Sean L. Swezey
    University of California Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems
    Santa Cruz, CA
  • David Chaney
    University of California Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program
    Davis, CA

Cooperating Organizations: