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What is Organic Food?

Organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations. Organic meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides; petroleum- based fertilizers or sewage sludge-based fertilizers; bio-engineering; or ionizing radiation. Before a product can be labeled USDA organic,  a Government-approved certifier inspects the farm where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is following all the rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards. Companies that handle or process organic food before it gets to your local supermarket or restaurant must be certified, too.

To obtain this symbol the food must contain at least 95% organic ingredients, not counting added water and salt.

NC Organic Certification Cost Share Program

North Carolina is now accepting applications for the Organic Certification Cost share program.  Growers, Handlers and Processors will be reimbursed 75%, up to $750, the cost of obtaining organic certification for each category in which they are certified.  Expenses must have been incurred and paid between October 1, 2014 and September 30, 2015.

To apply, complete the application, IRS W-9 form, and include copies of invoices from the certifying agency.  Applications can be mailed to the address below, faxed to 919-749-3337 or emailed to

Application deadline is December 1, 2015.  For more information call 919-707-3127 or email

IRS W9 form
Cost Share Application

Organic Green Bell Peppers Packaged Organic Green Bell Peppers on Bush

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture "Certified organic" means that agricultural products have been grown and processed according to the specific standards of various State and private certification organizations. Certifying agents review applications from farmers and processors for certification eligibility, and qualified inspectors conduct annual onsite inspections of their operations. Inspectors talk with operators and observe their production and processing practices to determine if they are in compliance with organic standards that, for example, virtually prohibit synthetic pesticide use in crop production and require outdoor access for animals in livestock production.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has put in place a set of national standards that food labeled USDA organic must meet, whether it is grown in the United States or imported from other countries. After October 21, 2002, when you buy food labeled USDA organic you can be sure that it was produced using the highest organic production and handling standards in the world.

Organic Helpers

Visit the following links to learn more about organically grown foods:

Transition to Organics

National Organic Certification


Mail forms and letters to:

Heather Barnes, Marketing Specialist
North Carolina Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services
1020 Mail Service Center
Raleigh NC 27699-1020
(919) 707-3127


NCDA&CS Markets Division, Joe Sanderson, Director
Mailing Address: 1020 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1020
Physical Address: 2 W. Edenton Street, Room 402, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3100; FAX: (919) 733-0999