If you are planning to start an organic farm, you are probably aware that there are a lot of steps that you need to take in order to get started. Organic farming involves certifications, rules and standards that don’t apply non-organic farming.
Requirements for Organic Farmers
According to the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, organic farmers must produce products that have at least 95% organic ingredients in order to receive a USDA Organic symbol.
In order to become certified, farmers or handlers must submit information about their operations to an authorized certifying agent. The information that is required includes:
- The type of operation;
- A 3 year history of the substances that have been applied to the land;
- The organic products that will be grown, processed or raised;
- The applicant’s Organic System Plan (OSP).
Authorized agents of the USDA will then determine if the applicant is in compliance with organic standards. Following acceptance, the applicant will be subject to unannounced inspections and reviews of the operational activities of the business in terms of compliance and enforcement regulations.
If your farm sells less than $5,000 per year in organic agriculture products, you do not need to obtain certification from the USDA. However, the national standards for organic products must be upheld regardless of revenue in terms of products that are permissible for labeling as organic.
North Carolina Organic Farms
To help alleviate the costs associated with starting an organic farm, North Carolina operates a cost share program that allows growers, handlers and processors to be reimbursed 75%, up to $750, of the cost of obtaining the national organic certification for every category in which the business can be certified. This program is known as the NC Organic Certification Cost Share Program.
Finding Land for Organic Farming NC
If you are looking to buy land for organic farming in North Carolina, choosing the right location will depend on your budget and your OSP. The quality of the soil is also extremely important as good quality soil is needed to meet the USDA’s rigorous standards for organic farming. Some areas may require more fertilizer than other areas in North Carolina, so it is important that you do a soil test of any land that you are considering purchasing. Certain areas outside of Raleigh are known primarily for growing tobacco while other crops such as sweet potatoes, cucumbers and other produce are also popular.
North Carolina Vacant Land for Sale
Buying rural land in North Carolina is easier if you use the services of an experienced local real estate agent. Your agent can guide you on the best places to purchase land for your organic farming needs. In addition, the agent can advise you on current land prices. Land prices in rural North Carolina can be as much as $25,000 per acre for land that is in close proximity to cities or in more remote areas, land prices may be as low as $1,000 per acre.
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