Certifying Processing and Handling

The NOP standard requires processors and handlers of organic products to be certified. Processing is any modification of a raw agricultural product. 

Recent changes from the Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) final rule now require most handling activities to be certified by March 19, 2024. SOE has updated the definition of “handle” and “handling operation” as follows: 

Handle. To sell, process, or package agricultural products, including but not limited to trading, facilitating sale or trade on behalf of a seller or oneself, importing to the United States, exporting for sale in the United States, combining, aggregating, culling, conditioning, treating, packing, containerizing, repackaging, labeling, storing, receiving, or loading.

Handling Operation. Any operation that handles agricultural products, except final retailers of agricultural products that do not process agricultural products.

 

Please read through this page carefully as it contains detailed and important information.  Processor/Handler applications are accepted year-round!

If you would like to apply online as a new applicant for certification, please contact our office directly to learn more!

We urge anyone interested in certifying their processing or handling operation to first speak with our processing specialists  or John Welton (568-6032; jwelton@mofga.org) or Laurah Brown (568-6036; lbrown@mofga.org).  It will be a time saver.

You will want to read the Practice Manual. You can learn more about record keeping for certified processed products here. If you prefer, you can receive a paper copy in the mail, plus any forms you may need.  Call 568-6030 or email: certification@mofga.org.

Below are the forms needed to certify a processing and handling operation:

  1. Organic Handling Plan
  2. Multi-ingredient Product Profile  Use this form to detail the composition, processing, and label category of each multi-ingredient organic product you make.  If you offer only single ingredient products, you need the next form and not this one.
  3. Single-ingredient Product Profile.  Use this form to detail the processing and labeling of each single-ingredient organic product you make.
  4. Materials List.  Use this form to identify all the materials and inputs you use in the operation of your processing facility.  Cleaning agents, filtering aids, disinfectants, pest control materials, and equipment lubricants are among the materials that must be identified and approved.
  5. Fee Schedule
  6. Explanation of Cost Share Programs (instructional)
  7. Organic Producer Endorsement
  8. Verification of Ingredient Status – if you are not certain if you need this form, please contact John Welton or Laurah Brown (above).

Specialty Section

  • Slaughterhouses. Organic meats that bear an Organic label must be processed in a certified organic slaughterhouse.  We encourage organic livestock producers to work with their slaughterhouses on becoming certified.  Here is a helpful information document as well as a custom supplemental form just for this purpose. Information for Organic Slaughterhouses and Slaughterhouse Supplement Form.
  • Importing into the United States: For information on importing certified organic products into the United States, please read this.
  • Exempt Handler Affidavit form. The Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) rule, as of March 19, 2024, has removed most exemptions for handling activities of certified organic products. This includes storage, warehousing, distribution, brokerage, etc. Certified operations must have this form completed by the applicable non-certified operation and submitted to MCS for review. MCS will make the final determination of whether an operation in your supply chain can continue to operate without certification.
  • On-Farm Processing. There are instances when a farm operation will need to complete an organic handling plan (OHP); these include on-farm poultry slaughtering and other value-added products (e.g., bottling milk or fermenting vegetables).  For simplified on-farm processing please complete the  On-Farm Processing form.  If you are uncertain whether to complete the OHP or the On-Farm form, please contact our office.

Organic Labeling Requirements. The NOP has strict labeling requirements. For more information on organic claims on product labeling and marketing materials, visit our Organic Logos and Label Requirements page. All organic product labels require a compliance review and approval.

Please email a PDF of your application to: certification@mofga.org or you may mail your paper application to: MOFGA Certification, PO Box 170, Unity, ME 04988. Fees and a completed fee sheet must accompany your application.

Fees can be mailed in (checks payable to MOFGA Certification) or you can pay through our secure online portal.