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
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.