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Jonathan - Fri Jul 28, 2017 @ 02:18PM
Comments: 6

Organic Cost Share

2016-2017 ORGANIC COST SHARE REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAM*

USDA AMS AUTHORIZES REIMBURSEMENT OF UP TO $750 OF COSTS

OF ORGANIC CERTIFICATION*FUNDS DISBURSED ON A FIRST COME

FIRST SERVE BASIS* DEADLINE VARIES BY STATE* PROGRAM APPLIES TO ORGANIC CERTIFICATION GRANTED
OR RENEWED BETWEEN OCT 1, 2016 and SEPT 30, 2017

NON-FLORIDA BASED OPERATIONS: Contact the state agency designated as a point of

contact for your state's cost share program. See the POC list here.

FLORIDA BASED OPERATIONS

If you are certified by Americert International AND based in Florida, please do as follows:

  • 1.Complete the application form (be sure to sign it.)
  • 2.Complete a W9 form (Be sure to sign it. The W9 must match the company listed on your organic certificate. )
  • 3.Mail to Americert no later than Oct. 1, 2017:

Americert International

Attn: Cost Share

2603 NW 13th St. #228

Gainesville, FL 32609

  • Once we receive your completed application and W9 we will attach a copy of your statement of fees paid and your organic certificate and submit it on your behalf.

Comments: 6
Jonathan - Thu Jun 29, 2017 @ 11:35AM
Comments: 7

July 1, 2017 

We have made recent changes to our NOP Organic Fee Schedule and Refund Policy and are informing you of these changes which will go into effect for your operation during your next renewal cycle which occurs after July 1, 2017.Your base costs of organic certification are not changing. What is changing is our refund policy and that we are now implementing some contractual penalties for a failure to abide by the USDA NOP organic regulations. We have considered the charging of contractual penalties for some time but have not done so because we do not want to add to the burden of the costs of certification, but it appears that some operations are incurring repeated Notices of Noncompliance for a failure to abide by aspects of the organic regulations, which requires substantial additional staff work to resolve once identified. In some cases, these Noncompliances repeat from year to year. It is hoped that charging a contractual penalty for noncompliances will encourage operations to more fully understand and consistently comply with the USDA NOP organic regulations. We would prefer not to collect a single contractual penalty for a noncompliance with the organic standards. It is our hope that this process will instead act to encourage operations to be appropriately diligent in their understanding of and compliance with the USDA NOP organic standards. It will also mean we do not have to raise certification fees for all operations due to the additional work created by the operations which consistently have challenges understanding and complying with the USDA organic standards. Instead, the costs of that additional work will be properly allocated to the operations which are not complying consistently with the standards. A copy of the complete notice can be found here: 070117_Announcement_re_Changes_to_Fee_Schedule_and_Refund_Policy.pdf

Tags: NOP, fees, organic
Comments: 7
Comments: 57

Americert International has completed the 2015 round of pesticide residue testing conducted as a part of the USDA National Organic Program. Under the NOP regulations, Americert International regularly conducts pesticide residue testing of organic operations and applicants for organic certification. Under the USDA regulations, testing must be done of a min. of 5% of certified operations per year. In 2015 Americert International conducted 4 pesticide residue testing events and detected no pesticide residues in any of the samples taken. Copies of these test results are attached and can be viewed here.

Tags: USDA, NOP, Organic
Comments: 57
Jonathan - Sun Jan 25, 2015 @ 10:00AM
Comments: 71

Americert International, per USDA National Organic Program regulations, annually conducts testing of 5% of all certified organic clients, for compliance with the USDA National Organic Program regulations. In 2014, Americert International focused on pesticide residue testing, and conducted residue testing of 3 certified organic operations or applicants. Samples were collected onsite from the respective operations and tested at a laboratory accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standards, using a methodology intended to detect pesticide residues of specific concern as determined by USDA NOP guidance. All operations tested in 2014 by Americert International were reported by the lab to free of residues of prohibited pesticide residues.

If you are interested in viewing the lab test results, you may review them here:  2014_Pesticide_Residue_Test_Results.pdf

If you are interested in reading a list of prohibited pesticides for which residue tests were conducted, please review the list here.

Comments: 71
Jonathan - Sat Aug 30, 2014 @ 01:32PM
Comments: 60

Errors in creating proper labeling under the USDA National Organic Program regulations can be costly, lead to delays in obtaining certification, issuance of noncompliances, proposed suspension or revocation. Additionally it can be quite expensive to revise and reprint labels while discarding noncompliant labels. Accordingly, Americert International has put together the following PDF presentation on the requirements of USDA NOP organic labeling. 

Clients and new applicants should find this material helpful in developing their labels for USDA organic certified products. If you have any questions please contact the Americert office. 


2014_Guidance_on_Labeling.pdf


Comments: 60
Jonathan - Tue Aug 12, 2014 @ 06:03PM
Comments: 54

2013-2014 ORGANIC COST SHARE REIMBURSEMENT PROGRAM*USDA AMS AUTHORIZES REIMBURSEMENT OF UP TO $750 OF COSTS OF ORGANIC CERTIFICATION*FUNDS DISBURSED ON A FIRST COME FIRST SERVE BASIS* DEADLINE FOR APPLICATION IS DECEMBER 1, 2014 (CONFIRM DEADLINE IN YOUR STATE).


NON-FLORIDA BASED OPERATIONS: Contact the state agency designated as a point of

contact for your state's cost share program. See the POC list here.

FLORIDA BASED OPERATIONS

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has received

2014 National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) funds from the

United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA-AMS).

These funds will be used to reimburse producers and handlers for a portion of certification

costs for USDA Organic certification obtained between October 2013 and September 2014.

Please note that funds are available on a first-come, firstserved basis until all funds have

been expended. Please see USDA-AMS’s website for more information on the program.


The purpose of the NOCCSP is to reduce the cost of organic certification by reimbursing producers and
handlers up to 75% of costs incurred to obtain USDA Organic certification (up to a maximum of $750 per
category of certification).


Eligibility
In order to be eligible for reimbursement through the 2014 NOCCSP, an applicant must meet the
following criteria:

  • The operation must possess current USDA Organic certification. Operations with suspended or

revoked certification are not eligible for reimbursement.

  • Certification must have been initially obtained or renewed from a USDA-accredited certifying

agent between October 1, 2013 and September 30, 2014.

  • The certified operation must be located within the borders of Florida.
  • The operation must not already have received NOCCSP reimbursement from the State of Florida during

the present funding year.

The following are examples of expenses which can and which cannot be
reimbursed by the NOCCSP:
Allowable Costs

  • Application fees
  • Inspection costs
  • First-time USDA NOP certification fees
  • Travel costs/per diem for organic inspectors
  • User fees / sales assessments
  • Postage

Unallowable Costs

  • Late fees
  • Inspections due to violations of NOP regulations
  • Any charges related to certifications other
  • than USDA Organic
  • Transitional certifications
  • Materials and supplies
  • Equipment

How to Apply

To be considered for reimbursement, applicants must do the following:

  • Fill out and submit the application form;
  • Assemble and submit supporting documentation;
  • Register on MyFloridaMarketPlace.com as a state vendor; and
  • Submit a substitute W-9 to the Florida Department of Financial Services.

If submitting an application via email, please send to Joshua.Johnson@FreshFromFlorida.com. Include the letters “NOP” in the subject line of the email.

Because funding is available on a “first-come, first-served” basis until all funds are expended, applications will not be considered as received until all of the above steps are completed.

ALL APPLICATIONS MUST BE RECEIVED BY DECEMBER 1, 2014. OPERATIONS SUBMITTING APPLICATIONS RECEIVED AFTER THIS DATE MAY NOT RECEIVE REIMBURSEMENT.

Registering as a State Vendor

In order to receive reimbursement through the program, you will need to register as a vendor through www.myfloridamarketplace.com and submit a substitute W-9 form to the Department of Financial Services. This is a two-step process, and both steps have to be completed before your organization can receive any payments from the State of Florida. The steps are as follows:

  1. Visit https://vendor.myfloridamarketplace.com/vms-web/spring/login , fill out the form titled “New Vendor Registration”, and follow the instructions to create your MyFloridaMarketplace record.
  2. Visit https://flvendor.myfloridacfo.com/, click the link on the right side of the page titled “Click here to Register”, and follow the instructions for submitting your Substitute Form W-9. Additional information on this requirement is contained in the attached document.

Once you have completed these steps, send an email to Joshua.Johnson@FreshFromFlorida.com with the letters “NOP” in the subject line to indicate that have registered. FDACS staff will verify that your business appears in the database of state vendors, and will contact you if any further action is necessary.

Comments: 54
Comments: 34

In 2013, the USDA issued Guidance 5029 with guidance on the requirements for certified operations and certifiers on reviewing compliance with the USDA National Organic Program regulations regarding the use of organic seeds, annual seedlings, and planting stock. 


The following PowerPoint presentation summarizes this guidance document and serves as a good review of the requirements for Seeds, Seedlings, and Planting Stock under the USDA National Organic Program regulations.  The PowerPoint presentation includes a quiz with answers to test your knowledge. 


Americert International staff and inspectors should review the presentation, which is linked here.

After reviewing, staff and contractors should complete the training affirmation located here and email, fax, or mail it in to the Americert office. 


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Comments: 71


Americert International, per USDA National Organic Program regulations, annually conducts testing of 5% of all certified organic clients, for compliance with the USDA National Organic Program regulations. In 2013, Americert International focused on pesticide residue testing, and conducted residue testing of 2 certified organic operations or applicants.  Samples were collected onsite from the respective operations and tested at a laboratory accredited to ISO/IEC 17025:2005 standards, using a methodology intended to detect pesticide residues of specific concern as determined by USDA NOP guidance. The two operations tested in 2013 by Americert International were both reported by the lab to free of residues of prohibited pesticide residues. 


If you are interested in viewing the lab test results, you may review them here and here.


If you are interested in reading a list of prohibited pesticides for which residue tests were conducted, please review the list here.



Comments: 71
Comments: 53

The USDA National Organic Program, through its "Sound and Sensible" initiative, has encouraged accredited certifiers to simply the process of certified operations submitting their annual updates, so as to reduce the paperwork burden associated with organic certification. In accordance with the "Sound and Sensible" approach, Americert International has made some modifications to the renewal process and forms, and in particular has created a simplified annual update form for operations renewing their certification annually. The new handler update and grower update forms require that operations verify no changes to aspects of their operation which have not changed, rather than submitting all of the original paperwork again. This simplified update process should cut in half the number of pages of forms to be completed each year. Under the new process, each operation type should:

For Handlers:

Download and complete the Handler Annual Update Form, which can be downloaded from this link.

NOTE: You will need Adobe Reader to open the form. Also please note that if you open it in your browser it will not function properly--you will need to download it and then open it in Adobe Reader in order to be able to type into and save the form.

Complete the annual update form, complete, and submit it back to Americert with the following attachments:

1. Completed Organic Product Profiles for each product for which certification is sought.

2. Copies of updated supplier certificates.

3. Any attachments reflecting revisions or changes to the handler plan since last year.

4. Copies of labels for each product for which certification is sought, unless there have been no changes.

5. Annual renewal fees.

For Growers:

Download and complete the Grower Annual Update Form, which can be downloaded from this link.

NOTE: You will need Adobe Reader to open the form. Also please note that if you open it in your browser it will not function properly--you will need to download it and then open it in Adobe Reader in order to be able to type into and save the form.

Complete the annual update form, complete, and submit it back to Americert with the following attachments:

1. Any attachments reflecting revisions or changes to the grower plan since last year.

2. Copies of labels for each product for which certification is sought, unless there have been no changes.

3. Annual renewal fees.

You will need a copy of your last approved organic system plan to complete the update form. Please contact Americert International if you need a copy of the last approved system plan.


Comments: 53
Jonathan - Tue Mar 26, 2013 @ 08:43PM
Comments: 56

Guidance on the Use of Acetic Acid and Vinegar in farm operations under the USDA National Organic Program Regulations

March 23, 2013

This guidance is being issued to clarify the allowed, restricted, and prohibited uses for acetic acid and vinegar in farm operations certified under the USDA National Organic Program. The terms vinegar and acetic acid are sometimes used interchangeably, although strictly speaking acetic acid is only one of the substances present in vinegar. Nonetheless, when the concentration of acetic acid exceeds a certain point (generally 8%) the product is usually referred to as acetic acid. Additionally, a product labeled as vinegar is, when sourced from a U.S. manufacturer, a product produced from fermentation. From the standpoint of the USDA organic regulations the distinction between vinegar and acetic acid is less important than the question of whether or not the substance is synthetic or non-synthetic, because this determines if the product has restricted uses and whether or not a specific use is prohibited.

Restricted Uses for Non-Synthetic Vinegar

 A non-synthetic vinegar or acetic acid is a restricted substance under the USDA organic regulations, it can be used for pest, weed, or disease control if physical, cultural, and mechanical means of control have proved insufficient and that the conditions for using the substance are documented in the organic system plan (i.e. an indication that it will only be used if physical, cultural, and mechanical prove insufficient for control.)

Establishing the Non-Synthetic Status of Vinegar or Acetic Acid

The burden of establishing the non-synthetic status of the product is on the operation using it. Documenting the non-synthetic nature of a vinegar or acetic acid can be accomplished in one of two ways: 1) Documentation from the manufacturer describing the manufacturing process; or 2) If the product is manufactured in the U.S. and is labeled as vinegar by the manufacturer this will be sufficient proof that the product is non-synthetic.

Restricted Uses of Synthetic Vinegar of Acetic Acid

A synthetic vinegar or acetic acid is treated as a restricted substance under the USDA organic regulations, meaning that is has some approved uses or some conditions on use. When used in compliance with these approved uses or conditions on use, the product can be used by a certified organic operation. When used for a non-approved use or in violation of the conditions on use, the product is treated as a prohibited substance and its use will lead to suspension or revocation of certification for a minimum of three years.

The restricted uses for synthetic acetic acid are as follows: synthetic vinegar, at a maximum of 8% acetic acid in solution, is a minimum risk inert ingredient that may be used as both an adjuvant or an inert ingredient in combination with active allowed pesticide ingredients or allowed herbicide ingredients.

What Should a Farm Do?

The first step is to determine the intended use of the vinegar or acetic acid on the farm. If the intended use is for weed control (the most common use), then the farm must source non-synthetic vinegar or non-synthetic acetic acid. In the United States, substances labeled by the manufacturer as vinegar are always non-synthetic. If the manufacturer labels the product as acetic acid the farm must obtain further documentation from the manufacturer that the product is non-synthetic. Specifically, the manufacturer must submit a signed statement which states: “This product is produced through fermentation and not through methanol carbonylation, acetaldehyde oxidation, or ethylene oxidation.”

If the intended use is as an adjuvant or inert ingredient in a combination with an active pesticide or herbicide ingredient allowed under the USDA organic regulations, the farm must document this intended use in its organic system plan and disclose the concentration to be used in the final end product and the active ingredient in the final end product, as well as the intended use of the final end product.

Please note that the use of a synthetic vinegar or acetic acid for weed control when not used as an adjuvant or inert ingredient combined with an allowed active ingredient, or in a concentration higher than 8%, is a prohibited use which may lead to revocation or suspension of organic certification.

Comments: 56
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