Farmer FAQs

  • What is Real Organic Project certification?

    Our add on certification is for farms that grow their plants in healthy soil and raise their animals humanely and on pasture. We exist to help farmers and eaters differentiate farms that are growing their animals and crops to not only the letter, but also the spirit of the certified organic standards.

  • What does “add on” mean?

    Real Organic Project operates as an add-on label to certified organic. This means that we only certify farms that are already USDA certified organic.

  • Do the farmers have to pay for Real Organic certification?

    No, there are no fees to be a Real Organic Project farm. Our certification program is funded by eaters, farmers and private foundations that want to see a certified organic system that embodies integrity, transparency and the spirit of organic farming.

  • Is there a Real Organic Project application?

    Yes, you can click here to complete our online application. Filling out the application takes about 30 minutes, and does not require any additional records or documents. Our staff will respond to your application as soon as possible. Please note: during our travel season (June-October) responses may be slower than usual.

  • Are there on-farm inspections for Real Organic Project?

    Yes, once your application is approved one of our inspectors will arrange a visit to your farm, during the growing season, to ensure that it meets all of our certification criteria. Like all parts of our certification program, the inspection is completely free for farmers.

  • Can I provide feedback on the standards?

    Yes, at any time! Our 15-member standards board evaluates and votes on the standards every winter. You can complete the contact us form to let us know that you would like to provide comments in writing or in person at the Standards Board meeting in December.

  • Is there a label I can use?

    Yes, once your farm has completed our application and inspection process you will have the ability to use the Real Organic Project logo on your marketing materials and on any products that we certify.

General FAQs

  • Why Don’t You Sue the USDA?

    We did! Five of our Real Organic Certified farms (Full Belly Farm, Swanton Berry Farm, Long Wind Farm, Jacobs Farm, and Durst Organic Growers) joined the Center For Food Safety, OneCert Inc, and the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association in a lawsuit against the USDA for certifying hydroponics as organic. The appellants in the case are some of the longest-standing organic farms in the U.S. The court rejected our lawsuit, although on appeal the court made clear that the decision should not be used as a legal precedent. Meaning, they weren’t really comfortable with the USDA’s interpretation but they didn’t want to go against a Federal Agency.

  • Is Real Organic divisive to the organic community?

    No. We strongly oppose the invasion of organic by non-organic players who have swayed the USDA to support their “new organic.” But the entire organic world agrees with our concept of organic farming. Only in America are hydroponics and confinement CAFO livestock operations allowed to be certified as organic.

  • Is it crazy to think you can oppose the USDA?

    Maybe. But the first time we built an organic movement, it was in opposition to the USDA. There is no reason why we cannot do it again.

  • Doesn’t challenging the National Organic Program do damage to people’s faith in organic?

    Yes, it does. But not challenging a compromised program will do more damage to organic in the end. The strategy of silence has not helped us to move towards greater integrity. Are we concerned with being part of a “circular firing squad?” So far most of the bullets are coming our way. We are not firing at anybody. We invite all to change how they farm and join Real Organic.

  • How many farms are certified by Real Organic Project?

    Real Organic Project currently certifies 1000+ farms across the country. We certify highly diversified operations, meat and dairy farms, vegetable farms, grain growers and everything in between.

Have Other Questions?

Please reach out to us and we will be happy to answer your questions!