Certifying Your Farm
While organic labels and certifications can be useful in purchasing and identifying sustainably cultivated food products, at MSAN we believe that the most effective way to ensure the quality of your food is to Know your Farmer. Only when farmers have a personal accountability to their consumer can the greatest amount of assurance of quality be achieved.
Certified Naturally Grown
Certified Naturally Grown is a Grassroots Alternative to the USDA’s National Organic Program meant primarily for small farmers distributing through local channels. The primary difference between Certified Naturally Grown and the USDA Organic program is cost to farmers and paperwork requirements (CNG standards are nearly identical to those of the USDA). The crux of the Certified Naturally Grown program is the farmer-to-farmer inspection approach. All farmers applying to use the label must agree to do at least one inspection of another farm.
USDA Organic Certification
USDA organic certification verifies that your farm or handling facility located anywhere in the world complies with the USDA organic regulations and allows you to sell, label, and represent your products as organic.Your farm or handling facility would be certified by a certifying agent, accredited by the USDA and are located throughout the United States, who are responsible for ensuring that USDA organic products meet or exceed all organic standards.
Follow these links for more information on the benefits, drawbacks, and processes of certifying your farm under the USDA standards:
USDA Organic Integrity Database
Find a specific certified organic farm or business, or search for an operation with specific characteristics. Listings come from USDA-Accredited Certifying Agents. Historical Annual Lists of Certified Organic Operations and monthly snapshots of the full data set are available for download on the Data History page. Only certified operations can sell, label or represent products as organic, unless exempt or excluded from certification.
Follow this link and type Mississippi into the State/Province tab to find out which farms are certified Organic and which agencies certify Organic in Mississippi.
Good Agricultural Practices and Good Handling Practices
Good Agriculture Practice and Good Handling Practice (GAP/GHP) is an audit/certification program operated by the USDA to verify that farms use “practices that address environmental, economic and social sustainability for on-farm processes, and result in safe and quality food and non-food agricultural products.” This is a voluntary program typically utilized by growers and packers to satisfy contractual requirements with retail and food service buyers. The audits focus on best agricultural practices to verify that fruits and vegetables are produced, packed, handled, and stored in the safest manner possible to minimize risks of microbial food safety hazards.
For more information please visit the USDA’s website on GAP/GHP audit systems as well as this user’s guide to the program. Find companies that meet USDA GHP/GAP acceptance criteria in Mississippi and beyond by clicking here.
Animal Welfare Approved
AWA audits, certifies and supports independent family farmers raising their animals according to the highest animal welfare standards, outdoors on pasture or range. The Animal Welfare Approved label verifies that participating farms are putting each individual animal’s comfort and well-being first. AWA assists farms with market development while also providing technical support and consumer education year round.
Farmers interested in seeking AWA certification or consumers who want to know more about AWA initiatives should check out their website and a guide to certification process. A list of AWA standards can be found here.
Mississippi Certified Farmers Market
The Mississippi Certified Farmers Market program is a voluntary branding program, created and administered by the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce to promote and identify a market place for Mississippi grown fruits, vegetables, plant materials, and other products made and/or processed in the state. The primary objectives of a Mississippi Certified Market are to offer a diverse product selection, attract a large and repeating customer base, and afford farmers a profitable location to sell produce and other goods. Benefits to the farmers include free membership, promotional assistance with advertising specific to each market, tax exemption status on most items, and supplies such as logo stickers, pricing cards, and signage, as well as website links.