"“Certified organic” means a lot more than most people realize. When you buy a bag of feed for your animals, the USDA certified organic label on the bag means that what’s inside was grown, nurtured and harvested by a farmer who kept a stringent set of rules. A farmer can’t just say his crop is organic. His farm must comply with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 as well as the USDA National Organic Program rules. For a farm to qualify as a certified organic operation, the farmer must have kept the land free of any kind of synthetic additives like pesticides, herbicides, man-made fertilizers or GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) for three years prior to harvest. Little things you may not think about – like you can’t treat a wood fence with certain substances. You can’t hang a no-fly strip in the barn. These things would count as pesticides, and even little variations like this could prevent a farm labeling its crop as organic. If the animals get sick, they’re treated with natural remedies or homeopathic medicines rather than antibiotics. They’re never treated with growth or breeding hormones. There’s actually a list of allowed and prohibited substances for use on your farm. Certifying agents carry out routine inspections to be sure that farmers adhere to the regulations. Certified organic also means no methods like genetic engineering, ionizing radiation or sewage sludge are permitted, and that’s all very good for the environment and sustainability. If you’d like to know more about what organic farmers need to do before they earn the name ""organic farmer"", take a look at the USDA website."

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