Organic Agriculture

Excerpted from Food Print

Organic farming relies on managing the farm ecosystem, employing practices that improve soil health and avoid external outputs. Organic practices are based on:

  • The art and science of breeding plants for maximum resilience without the use of genetic modification
  • Careful pest management without the use of chemical pesticides
  • The use of natural fertilizers, such as manure and compost, without the use of synthetic fertilizers
  • In animal agriculture, ample space in which animals can exhibit their natural behaviors along with no hormones and unnecessary antibiotics in animal feed

Since 2000, organic has also been certified by the United States Department of Agriculture. USDA Certified Organic food tells the consumer that farmers, ranchers and food processing plants have followed standards that are foundational to improving the farm environment, including soil health.

What Is Organic Agriculture?

As the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) puts it, organic production “is a system that begins to consider potential environmental and social impacts by eliminating the use of synthetic inputs, such as synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, veterinary drugs, genetically modified seeds and breeds, preservatives, additives and irradiation. These are replaced with site-specific management practices that maintain and increase long-term soil fertility and prevent pests and diseases.”

The USDA National Organic Program regulates organic agriculture. Producers and processors must adhere to USDA Organic standards to label and market their products as Certified Organic and must be verified by a third-party certifier, which requires annual inspection. The standards cover production along the supply chain, including soil and water management, pest control, livestock practices and approved food additives.
Learn more here.

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