Coffee Certifications – Organic Certified

Posted on: January 2nd, 2013 by admin No Comments

International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) is the basic standard to be considered as a baseline reference standards for organic agriculture worldwide.

Although many people understand organic agriculture as solely the prohibition of synthetic agrochemicals, the organic standards also include:

  • nature conservation through the prohibition of clearing primary ecosystems
  •  biodiversity preservation
  • soil and water conservation
  • a prohibition on the use of genetically modified organisms
  • diversity in crop production
  • maintenance of soil fertility and biological activity, among others.

As of 1996 a basic chapter on social justice has been added to the organic platform, this chapter is implemented by IFOAM accredited certification bodies worldwide.

Coffee sold as Organic certified in the U.S. must be produced under U.S. standards established by the USDA’s National Organic Program. Verification is carried out by accredited certifying agencies. Requirements for this certification include no use of prohibited substances on the land for at least three years. This includes most synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. Other certification requirements include a buffer between the coffee and any other crop not grown organically, and a plan that demonstrates methods that prevent soil erosion, and other sustainable agricultural criteria.  The cost and fees to producers and buyers vary depending on the certification agency, and include annual auditing fees.

The Organic Food Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) focuses on the production of coffee after the harvest. OFPA regulates the use of chemicals on the product and how the coffee beans are handled throughout the production process.

When organic coffee is purchased under a Fair Trade contract, the producing cooperative receives a price premium of 15-20 cents a pound. Outside a Fair Trade contract, producers can use the certification to negotiate a better price for their coffee.