Becoming A Certified Organic Grower
The Mississippi organic certification policy was approved on May 21, 2004, by the USDA National Organics Program. This policy was developed to benefit organic growers. It helps ensure the quality and value of organically grown products. Although the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce (MDAC) stopped providing certification to organic growers in 2012, growers can continue to be certified by private certification companies. In Mississippi, the first applications were received and reviewed in 2005. The first six growers were approved that year. Six more were approved in 2006. By the middle of 2007, an additional 12 applications had been approved, for a total of 24 certified organic growers. As of 2016, there were 36 certified farms and handlers in Mississippi, including livestock, forages, herbs, coffee, blueberries, sweetpotatoes, and other fruits and vegetables. The updated list can be seen anytime at http://apps.ams.usda. gov/integrity. Interest in organic fruits and vegetables is steadily growing in Mississippi. Some commercial growers are trying organic methods on a small scale before requesting certification to help decide if this route is best for their business. This publication was written to assist commercial fruit and vegetable growers with the process of becoming certified in Mississippi.