By: Myron Fountain, former director, NCCIA; Jim Riddle, organic policy specialist, Rodale Institute’s www.newfarm.org and Tony Kleese, former executive director, CFSA
Isolation/Buffer: The size of isolation buffers for adjacent non-organic land depends on land uses, prevailing winds, runoff directions, ditches, and other barriers, and is usually between 20 and 50 feet. However, cross-pollinated crops, or wind pollinated crops (such as corn), should be isolated from others by 660 feet to maintain seed purity.
Organic seed: Organic seed must be used when commercially available. However, in many cases the crop and/or variety desired is not commercially available as organic seed. Generally, the applicant must contact at least three seed companies or sources that carry organic seeds in an effort to obtain the organic seed of the variety desired. The three seed sources contacted must produce or supply seed of the crop kind desired. The applicant must also document the contact (date; telephone, fax, letter and/or email message; crop; variety, then most comparable variety with organic seed source and price). A copy of this documentation may be required by the organic certifier if seed is used that is not organic. Excellent resources for availability of organic seed for crop production can be found at:
Non-organic and organic production (i.e. split production): A split operation may require some additional recordkeeping and detailed auditing. The dates, cleaning, purging and operators of equipment (including field preparation, cultivation, harvesting and handling equipment) that is used in both non-organic and organic operations must be recorded. Special care should be taken to prevent contamination of organic crops by conventional crops, especially conventional crop treatments and transgenic crops.
Accidental contamination: Accidental contamination of an operation by prohibited substances can be a result of spraying by the Department of Transportation (DOT), electrical companies or by neighbors. It is important to be very communicative about your organic operation, and display signs that indicate organic land. The DOT and electrical companies should be informed of the location of organic land and be specifically asked to avoid spraying the areas.
Storage and product transportation: Organic and non-organic grain (or field crops) should not co-mingle. Storage bins or containers and areas for organic grains should be clearly labeled “organic”. Documentation of the cleaning of transportation vehicles will be required. The date, previous product transported, organic product transported and driver(s) are generally needed for the documentation.