Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Chris Grigsby addressing a standing-room-only crowd at the Common Ground Country Fair about the Certified Clean Cannabis program of MOFGA Certification Services. English photo
Chris Grigsby addressing a standing-room-only crowd at the Common Ground Country Fair about the Certified Clean Cannabis program of MOFGA Certification Services. English photo
 

By Chris Grigsby, MOFGA Certification Services Director

It certainly has been a busy year in the world of MOFGA certification (both locally and nationally). We will finish the year with over 580 certified operations – 546 certified organic, 37 certified clean cannabis. While certification activities keep our team busy throughout the year, we continue to work on myriad other items as well.

MOFGA Certification Services (MCS), while a separate LLC, plays an integral role in MOFGA’s general work throughout the year. We participate in MOFGA grower/producer meetings, attend the National Organic Standards Board meetings (and testify with comments and panel participation), attend trainings, work with certifiers by participating in the Accredited Certifiers Association (with the aim of consistent interpretations of the standards), and advocate for MOFGA-certified producers through MOFGA’s public policy work. All this is to say that we do not take our work lightly, and we are committed to ensuring success, fairness, integrity and consistency in our certification work.

National Organic Program (NOP)

As you’ll read elsewhere in this publication, the organic dairy industry in Maine and throughout the country has and continues to face hard times. Part of this hardship has been the lack of a level playing field regarding consistent interpretation and so-called “loopholes” in the regulation, allowing continuous transition of animals in and out of organic herds. MCS has never interpreted the regulations to allow this, and we are pleased that the NOP has re-issued the proposed 2015 Origin of Livestock rule, which would eliminate this loophole. MOFGA and MCS worked hard to bring this issue to light through informing our congressional delegation of the issues, organizing petition drives and pressuring USDA through coalition partner activities. We hope that this rule is finalized as soon as possible.

Hemp

The passage in December 2018 of the 2018 farm bill brought the national legalization of hemp. While the state of Maine has had a hemp production law on the books for several years, the thought that Maine producers will be able to grow, process, add value to and ship these products nationally is new. USDA is in the process of writing rules that will govern the production in the United States, and with those rules we will be able to certify hemp as organic under the NOP. While we do certify hemp currently under our clean cannabis program, producers will, for the 2020 growing season we hope, have the opportunity to certify their hemp and value-added products as NOP-organic.

Planned Updates for 2020

We are planning a number of items for 2020, including new logo development for both the certified organic and certified clean cannabis MCS seals. In addition we will add to our online client renewal portal and are pleased to finally be bringing our processor/handlers into this system. This has been a request for quite some time, and we are excited to finally be able to offer it in 2020. We will continue to work with MOFGA’s newly formed communications and outreach department to elevate the MOFGA-certified brand, increase consumer awareness and education, and highlight the great products and stories of our certified producers.

I’m approaching my 3-year anniversary since becoming the certification director, and I joke with our staff, asking, “When is the slow season?” I usually get a smile or a shrug and the response, “There isn’t one!”