MOFGA certified organic operations have specific rules about what materials and inputs are allowed for use. Material inputs can be fertilizers, pest controls, sanitizers and cleaners, food or feed additives, preservatives, and animal health medicines. All inputs must be approved by MCS prior to use and listed on your Material list. Part of the service you receive as a MOFGA Certification Service (MCS) client, at no additional charge, is the review of these material inputs. We have a database of reviewed products, and can review new products and inputs for you per request. Use of a prohibited input, the misuse of a restricted input, or the improper use of an approved input can result in delays to your certification, a notice of noncompliance, or even loss of certification.
Always contact MCS before you use any new material input. We are glad to help! Read the Frequently Asked Questions below for more detail.
What materials can be used?
MOFGA certification allows products approved for use by the Organic Materials Review Institute ( OMRI ), Washington State Department of Agriculture ( WSDA ) and Pennsylvania Certified Organic ( PCO ). MCS also has a database with products we have reviewed that are not on the above lists. Locally produced composts that have been approved for use by MCS in conjunction with MOFGA’s Agricultural Services Department may also be used.
As always, you must pay attention to any annotations or restrictions and notify your certification specialist prior to use of a new product not mentioned on your material list. Bear in mind that products are added and removed from these lists periodically, so keep an eye out for changes.
I would like to use a material not listed on the lists above, what do I do?
Materials that don’t appear on our approved lists above may be reviewed by MOFGA Certification Services at the request of a client who would like to use a product. Certified clients can submit materials for review to their certification specialist. Generally speaking, the more complete information that we receive about a product the swifter the review process. Information that you’ll need to provide about a product includes the full product name, manufacturer, and a description of how and when you’d like to use the product. Additional information that can be useful, but is not required, includes a copy of the label and/or contact information for a representative of the manufacturer.
Once this information is received by MCS we initiate a product review. As part of the review we need to look at all of the ingredients in a product. Ingredients in products for crop or livestock production must be either a natural substance (there are a few exceptions) or a synthetic substance that is included on the National Organic Program’s “National List” of allowed products (click here for the link). All ingredients, whether or not they are listed on a product label, must be reviewed for compliance. We sometimes find obtaining a full ingredient list from manufacturers is not possible or takes a great deal of time. We will contact the producer who requested the review when a determination is made.
How often does MCS re-assess approved materials?
All products approved by MCS are reviewed every three years. During that time we determine if a product is still in use by a MOFGA certified organic grower. If a product does not appear on any producer’s materials list we remove it from our review list. For all others we work directly with the manufacturer to determine if a product can still be approved for use. Status changes that impact a large number of producers will be announced in The Organic Sprout, which is sent to all producers. Otherwise, MCS will make an effort to contact individual producers who are using products that have been removed from the approved list.
Do you send out lists with MCS approved materials?
MCS typically sends out a MOFGA-approved compost list and a livestock materials list to certified producers annually. These lists are proprietary and are intended to help clients of MCS make informed product decisions. Producers should make their certification specialist aware of any materials changes, even when using a product that appears on a list supplied by MCS. We do not send out a crop material list, because there are a lot of crop input products already listed on OMRI. Also, because of the changing nature of material inputs, a paper list is quickly out of date.
I keep hearing about the “National List”. What’s that?
The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances is a section of the National Organic Standards that lists materials/inputs either allowed or prohibited in organic farming and processing. The List does not include all materials allowed and prohibited, since it assumes that natural substances are allowed in organic farming (unless they are on the List of prohibited natural materials), and assumes that synthetic substances are prohibited (unless they are on the List as allowed synthetic materials).
Are all natural substances allowed in organic farming?
No. There are sections of the National List for the natural (“non-synthetic”) substances, which are prohibited for use with organic crops and livestock. Examples of these include arsenic, strychnine, and tobacco dust. Also, there are many inputs which, while natural, include small quantities of synthetic additives that make the substance prohibited for organic use. Examples of these include petroleum-based dust suppressants used on mined (i.e. natural) fertility amendments (such as potassium chloride), or synthetic flow agents (such as yellow prussiate of soda) on salt. If a natural substance is not on either of the lists of prohibited materials, and can be shown to be free of prohibited synthetic additives, then it would be allowed. Since many products may appear to be all-natural but nonetheless contain prohibited minor ingredients, products must first be approved by MCS for their intended use before they can be used on MCS-certified farms and operations.
Are all synthetic substances prohibited in organic farming and processing?
No. The National List includes sections for synthetic substances allowed in crop and livestock farming and in processing (of food, feed, and fiber). In other words, synthetic substances are prohibited UNLESS they are included in the section of the List that pertains to the way that the material will be used, and these Lists usually contain very specific restrictions regarding the allowed uses.
My dealer said that a particular product was allowed in organic farming/processing. Does that mean that the material is allowed for me to use?
No. You must still contact MCS to verify that MCS allows the material for the intended use.
I know a particular material is allowed for use in my neighbor’s organic operation. Does that mean it’s allowed for use in my operation?
No. Each client must independently verify with their certifier that a material is acceptable for use in their organic operation, unless the material is OMRI listed (or approved by WSDA or PCO) for the use intended by the client. If the product is approved on these lists, MCS must still first be informed of the product you intend to use so that it can be added to your Organic System Plan prior to application or use.
Material Inputs FAQs provided courtesy of MOSA Certified Organic.