Home > News > Press Releases
Governor Signs Bill to Establish New Jersey Organic Certification Program

For Immediate Release: September 10, 2003


Hope Gruzlovic




The New Jersey Department of Agriculture will establish a state organic certification program that will help guarantee consumers high-quality organic products and help farmers transition to organic production under legislation signed into law today by Governor McGreevey.

“This legislation will further our goal to expand opportunities for farmers and to better meet the demands of consumers for new agricultural products like organic – what started out as a niche market that is becoming more mainstream,” said Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus.

The Department of Agriculture will certify organic producers and handlers, and inspect to ensure compliance with new federal regulations mandating that any organically grown agricultural product must meet U.S. Department of Agriculture standards if it is labeled as organic.

The legislation signed by the Governor also includes a provision that will assist farmers in expanding into organic production. Farmers who are transitioning to organic production and are in the process of completing the three-year qualifying period will have the ability to market their products as “transitional” – enabling them to realize the increased prices this niche market supports.

Currently, organic growers and handlers in New Jersey are certified by a number of private accredited certification agencies. The legislation provides the Department with the authority to enforce compliance with organic standards – which the private certification agencies do not have.

The Department is drafting rules to implement the new organic certification program, which is expected to be in place next summer.

Organic foods continue to be one of the fastest growing and most profitable segments of U.S. agriculture. Currently, there are more than 50 certified organic growers in New Jersey.