The Farming Year

The Farming Year


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MonthWork that needed to be doneWeather the farmers wanted
Januarymending and making tools, repairing fencesshowers
Februarycarting manure and marlshowers
Marchploughing, manure and marl spreadingdry, no severe frosts
Aprilspring sowing of seed, harrowingshowers and sunshine
Maydigging ditches, first ploughing of fallow fieldsshowers and sunshine
Junehaymaking, second ploughing of fallow field, sheepdry weather
Julyhaymaking, sheep-shearing, weeding of cropsdry early, showers later
Augustharvestingwar, dry weather
Septemberthreshing, ploughing, pruning fruit treesshowers
Octoberlast ploughing of the year, autumn sowing of seeddry, no severe frosts
Novembercollecting acorns for pigsshowers and sunshine
Decembermending and making tools, killing animalsshowers and sunshine

Average rainfall per month in Britain (in inches)

monthinchesmonthinchesmonthinchesmonthinches
January2.3April1.9July2.5October6.5
February3.5May1.9August3.0November3.0
March2.1June1.9September3.8December3.1

A girl named Mary Richards, who was thought remarkably handsome when she left the workhouse, and, who was not quite ten years of age, attended a drawing frame, below which, and about a foot from the floor, was a horizontal shaft, by which the frames above were turned. It happened one evening, when her apron was caught by the shaft. In an instant the poor girl was drawn by an irresistible force and dashed on the floor. She uttered the most heart-rending shrieks! Blincoe ran towards her, an agonized and helpless beholder of a scene of horror. He saw her whirled round and round with the shaft - he heard the bones of her arms, legs, thighs, etc. successively snap asunder, crushed, seemingly, to atoms, as the machinery whirled her round, and drew tighter and tighter her body within the works, her blood was scattered over the frame and streamed upon the floor, her head appeared dashed to pieces - at last, her mangled body was jammed in so fast, between the shafts and the floor, that the water being low and the wheels off the gear, it stopped the main shaft. When she was extricated, every bone was found broken - her head dreadfully crushed. She was carried off quite lifeless.


The Development of Agriculture

The development of agricultural about 12,000 years ago changed the way humans lived. They switched from nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyles to permanent settlements and farming.

Social Studies, World History

This lists the logos of programs or partners of NG Education which have provided or contributed the content on this page. Leveled by

Farming is a worldwide industry, and many immigrants carry their agricultural professions with them into their new homes, like this Polish farmer who immigrated to the United States in 1911 and established a dairy farm in Deerfield, Massachusetts.

Photograph by Robert Madden

the art and science of cultivating land for growing crops (farming) or raising livestock (ranching).

plant with a life cycle of no more than one year, and often much less.

grass cultivated as a grain.

type of grain, including wheat.

large settlement with a high population density.

complex way of life that developed as humans began to develop urban settlements.

to encourage the growth of something through work and attention.

the process of adapting wild plants or animals for human use.

very expressive or emotional.

change in heritable traits of a population over time.

land cultivated for crops, livestock, or both.

region extending from the eastern Mediterranean coast through Southwest Asia to the Persian Gulf.

fruit and tree native to Asia.

change to the genetic structure of an organism.

the gathering and collection of crops, including both plants and animals.

person who gets food by using a combination of hunting, fishing, and foraging.

animals raised for sale and profit.

to move from one place or activity to another.

imprecise term for countries in southwestern Asia, sometimes including Egypt.

2000 B.C.E.) last phase of the Stone Age, following the Mesolithic.

having to do with a way of life lacking permanent settlement.

constant or lasting forever.

period of time that occurred before the invention of written records.

likely to change with the seasons.

large community, linked through similarities or relationships.

prehistoric period where human ancestors made and used stone tools, lasting from roughly 2.5 million years ago to 7000 BCE.

movement from one position to another.

most widely grown cereal in the world.

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Tyson Brown, National Geographic Society

Author

National Geographic Society

Production Managers

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Jeanna Sullivan, National Geographic Society

Program Specialists

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Margot Willis, National Geographic Society

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Related Resources

Agricultural Communities

Agricultural communities developed approximately 10,000 years ago when humans began to domesticate plants and animals. By establishing domesticity, families and larger groups were able to build communities and transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle dependent on foraging and hunting for survival. Select from these resources to teach your students about agricultural communities.

Hunter-Gatherers

Hunter-gatherer cultures forage or hunt food from their environment. Often nomadic, this was the only way of life for humans until about 12,000 years ago when archaeologic studies show evidence of the emergence of agriculture. Human lifestyles began to change as groups formed permanent settlements and tended crops. There are still a few hunter-gatherer peoples today. Explore the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers in your classroom with these resources.

Agriculture

Agriculture is the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock.

Domestication

Domestication is the process of adapting wild plants and animals for human use

Doggerland - The Europe That Was

A map showing Doggerland, a region of northwest Europe home to Mesolithic people before sea level rose to inundate this area and create the Europe we are familiar with today.

Related Resources

Agricultural Communities

Agricultural communities developed approximately 10,000 years ago when humans began to domesticate plants and animals. By establishing domesticity, families and larger groups were able to build communities and transition from a nomadic hunter-gatherer lifestyle dependent on foraging and hunting for survival. Select from these resources to teach your students about agricultural communities.

Hunter-Gatherers

Hunter-gatherer cultures forage or hunt food from their environment. Often nomadic, this was the only way of life for humans until about 12,000 years ago when archaeologic studies show evidence of the emergence of agriculture. Human lifestyles began to change as groups formed permanent settlements and tended crops. There are still a few hunter-gatherer peoples today. Explore the lifestyle of hunter-gatherers in your classroom with these resources.

Agriculture

Agriculture is the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock.

Domestication

Domestication is the process of adapting wild plants and animals for human use

Doggerland - The Europe That Was

A map showing Doggerland, a region of northwest Europe home to Mesolithic people before sea level rose to inundate this area and create the Europe we are familiar with today.


Where Did Agriculture Begin? Oh Boy, It's Complicated

The Zagros Mountain range, which lies at the border between Iran and Iraq, was home to some of the world's earliest farmers.

JTB Photo/UIG via Getty Images

Sometime around 12,000 years ago, our hunter-gatherer ancestors began trying their hand at farming.

First, they grew wild varieties of crops like peas, lentils and barley and herded wild animals like goats and wild oxen. Centuries later, they switched to farming full time, breeding both animals and plants, creating new varieties and breeds. Eventually, they migrated outward, spreading farming to parts of Europe and Asia.

The earliest farmers lived in the Fertile Crescent, a region in the Middle East including modern-day Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Israel, Palestine, southeastern Turkey and western Iran. And scientists had long assumed these early farmers were a homogenous group that traded and intermingled, swapping farming tools and tricks — as well as their genes. In other words, farming was long believed to have been started by one group of ancestral humans.

But a new study suggests something different — that multiple groups of people in the Fertile Crescent started agriculture, and these groups were genetically distinct from one another. That is, they didn't intermingle at the time, at least not for a few thousand years. "They lived more or less in a similar area, but they stay highly isolated from each other," says Joachim Burger, an anthropologist at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, in Germany, and co-author of the new study.

Burger and an international team of scientists analyzed ancient DNA from the remains of four individuals who lived about 10,000 years ago on the eastern edges of the Fertile Crescent — the Zagros Mountains on the border between Iraq and Iran. They compared the DNA of these individuals with that of skeletons that were a couple of thousand years younger and had been found way on the other end of the Fertile Crescent, a region that includes modern-day Turkey.

But the two groups couldn't have been more genetically different, says Burger.

"We would not necessarily expect big genetic differences from one of end of Fertile Crescent to another," says evolutionary biologist Mark Thomas of University College, London, also an author of the new study. But in fact, the genetic signatures suggest that the Anatolians and the Zagros populations diverged from a common ancestor some 46,000 to 77,000 years ago — long before the advent of farming. "That's a surprise. That's the real big surprise of the study," Thomas says.

Scientists in a lab in Mainz, Germany, analyze ancient bone samples from the Zagros Mountains in Iran. Courtesy of Joachim Burger/JGU Mainz hide caption

Scientists in a lab in Mainz, Germany, analyze ancient bone samples from the Zagros Mountains in Iran.

Courtesy of Joachim Burger/JGU Mainz

Perhaps no one was more surprised than Burger. Just last month, he published a study that found that late Stone Age farmers from the Turkey region had migrated north into Europe and introduced farming there. So understandably, he had expected to be able to trace European agriculture all the way back to the eastern Fertile Crescent.

But that's not what the DNA said. The new study makes it clear that these earliest farmers of the eastern Fertile Crescent did not migrate westward — and so they were not responsible for spreading agriculture to Western Europe. No wonder, then, that the team also failed to find any genetic similarity between these ancient farmers and modern-day Europeans.

On the other hand, the early farmers of Zagros seem to have a striking genetic resemblance to present-day humans in South Asia, especially Pakistan and Afghanistan. That suggests that the descendants of the early farmers from Zagros probably migrated east, taking their farming techniques to that part of the world. That makes sense, says Thomas, because previous work by other researchers has shown "clear evidence of movement of crops and animals into Iran and northwestern parts of the [Indian] subcontinent."

An unpublished study by a team at Harvard Medical School confirms the genetic closeness of the early Zagros farmers with South Asians, and also shows that the early farmers of the Southern Levant (modern-day Syria and Palestine) moved to Africa, taking their farming traditions south with them. Clearly, the different populations in different parts of the Middle East migrated in different directions.

The idea that farming began in a single population came from initial archaeological discoveries in one part of the Mideast — the Southern Levant, says Melinda Zeder, an archaeologist at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, who wasn't involved in the study. But more recent excavations have shown that there was an "explosion of people" tinkering with farming all over the Fertile Crescent.

These findings and the latest study are painting a complicated picture of the early days of agriculture, says Zeder. "There are now clear signs of trade across the entire Fertile Crescent," she says. For instance, there's evidence that people traded tools. "We are seeing that people are in communication with one another. . But it is not one melting pot."


History of USDA's Farm Service Agency

The Farm Service Agency traces its beginnings to 1933, in the depths of the Great Depression. A wave of discontent caused by mounting unemployment and farm failures had helped elect President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who promised Americans a "New Deal."

One result was the establishment in 1935 of a Department of Agriculture agency with familiar initials: FSA, which stood for Farm Security Administration. Originally called the Resettlement Administration, and renamed in 1937, its original mission was to relocate entire farm communities to areas in which it was hoped farming could be carried out more profitably. But resettlement was controversial and expensive, and its results ambiguous. Other roles soon became more important, including the Standard Rural Rehabilitation Loan Program, which provided credit, farm and home management planning and technical supervision. This was the forerunner of the farm loan programs of the Farmers Home Administration.

Another related program was Debt Adjustment and Tenure Improvement. FSA county supervisors, sometimes with the help of volunteer committees of local farmers, would work with farmers and their debtors to try to arbitrate agreements and head off foreclosure. The idea was to reach a deal by which the bank could recover as much or more than it would through foreclosure by allowing the farmer to remain in business.

FSA also promoted co-ops and even provided medical care to poor rural families. Although the scope of its programs was limited, poor farm families who took part benefited greatly. One study estimates that families who participated in FSA programs saw their incomes rise by 69 percent between 1937 and 1941! Annual per capita meat consumption increased from 85 pounds to 447 pounds in the same period. Milk consumption increased by more than half.

In 1946 the Farmers Home Administration Act consolidated the Farm Security Administration with the Emergency Crop and Feed Loan Division of the Farm Credit Administration - a quasi-governmental agency that still exists today. This Act added authorities to the new Farmers Home Administration that included insuring loans made by other lenders. Later legislation established lending for rural housing, rural business enterprises, and rural water and waste disposal agencies.

Meanwhile, the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 had established the Agricultural Adjustment Administration, or AAA. The "Triple A's" purpose was to stabilize farm prices at a level at which farmers could survive. The law established state and county committees of farmers called "Triple A committees." These committees oversaw the first federal farm program offering price support loans to farmers to bring about crop reduction.

The old Triple A was built on two major program divisions: the Division of Production and the Division of Processing and Marketing. These were responsible for the work of commodity sections including dairy, rice, tobacco, sugar, wheat, cotton, corn and hogs.

With the passage of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938 and a general reorganization of the Department of Agriculture that October came new, complicated changes in conservation, crop support and marketing legislation. Programs such as commodity marketing controls, and the policy of the Congress to assist farmers in obtaining parity prices and parity income, made the federal government the decision-maker for the nation's farmers.

After Pearl Harbor, the War Food Administration (WFA) was organized to meet the increased needs of a country at war. This reorganization grouped production, supply and marketing authorities under a central agency which coordinated the flow of basic commodities.

Following World War II, the authority of the WFA was terminated. In its place came the Production and Marketing Administration, which, aside from other responsibilities, maintained a field services branch to aid in program oversight.

The post-war period of adjustment to peace-time production levels was almost as difficult as gearing up for war. New priorities had to be established, and at the same time, over-production of certain commodities threatened drops in farm income levels. The increased needs of war-ravaged nations helped absorb surplus production, but surpluses remained a nagging problem for farmers and policymakers.

In 1953, a reorganization of USDA again made changes in the powers and duties of its price support and supply management agency. With the changes came a new name - Commodity Stabilization Service - and an increased emphasis on the preservation of farm income. Conserving programs such as the Soil Bank were introduced to bring production in line with demand by taking land out of production for periods of time ranging up to 10 years. Community, county and state committees were formally identified for the first time as Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation committees.

The Commodity Stabilization Service became the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service (ASCS) in 1961, and the new name reflected the agency's stabilization and resource conservation missions. Field activities in connection with farm programs continue to be carried out through an extensive network of state and county field offices.

In 1994, a reorganization of USDA resulted in the Consolidated Farm Service Agency, renamed Farm Service Agency in November 1995. The new FSA encompassed the Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service, Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) and the farm credit portion of the Farmers Home Administration. In May 1996 FCIC became the Risk Management Agency.

Today, FSA's responsibilities are organized into five areas: Farm Programs, Farm Loans, Commodity Operations, Management and State Operations. The agency continues to provide America's farmers with a strong safety net through the administration of farm commodity programs. FSA also implements ad hoc disaster programs. FSA's long-standing tradition of conserving the nation's natural resources continues through the Conservation Reserve Program. The agency provides credit to agricultural producers who are unable to receive private, commercial credit. FSA places special emphasis on providing loans to beginning, minority and women farmers and ranchers. Its Commodity Operations division purchases and delivers commodities for use in humanitarian programs at home and abroad. FSA programs help feed America's school children and hungry people around the globe. Additionally, the agency supports the nation's disabled citizens by purchasing products made by these persons.


10 of the most iconic farming quotes in history

A lot has been said and written about agriculture since the dawn of human civilization. Some good, some bad, and a lot that isn’t worth repeating. I’m probably guilty of the last one. But there are some farming quotes so good they stick out and are worth repeating.

So I’ve compiled a list of the most iconic quotes about agriculture, farmers, and country life. Iconic is something that is considered symbolic. It sums up a characteristic of the whole. And I think these quotes do that for agriculture.

1. “Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you’re a thousand miles from the corn field.” — President Dwight D. Eisenhower

In other words, unless you’ve lived it, you don’t know as much as you think you do.

2. “No race can prosper until it learns there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem.” — Booker T. Washington

We have to recognize that everyone serves an important role in society. From farmers to rulers, we’re all important.

3. “Agriculture is our wisest pursuit, because it will in the end contribute most to real wealth, good morals, and happiness.” — Thomas Jefferson

Also, without agriculture we would all get pretty hungry. So Tommy’s observation is spot on,

4. “Farming is a profession of hope.” — Brett Brian

Every year the spring comes. And every year we plan those crops and try again. Every. Single. Year.

5. “Those too lazy to plow in the right season will have no food at the harvest.” — Proverbs 20:4

This Biblical passage has wider applications than its literal interpretation.

6. “The farmer has to be an optimist or he wouldn’t still be a farmer.” — Will Rogers

There are so many things that can devastate a crop: weather, markets, accidents. … Farmers have to believe none of them will happen.

7. “When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers, therefore, are the founders of human civilization.” — Daniel Webster

Farming might not be the first profession. But it’s a pretty close second.

8. “I would rather be on my farm than be emperor of the world.” — George Washington

9. “The farmer is the only man in our economy who buys everything at retail, sells everything at wholesale, and pays the freight both ways.” — John F. Kennedy

It’s funny how some things don’t change.

10. “The story of family farming underscores a legacy of sustainability.” — Amanda Zaluckyj, The Farmer’s Daughter USA

Sure, I took some liberties declaring this as an “iconic” agriculture quote. But it’s the one thing I wish more people understood better. So maybe one day it’ll be iconic.


Antiquated Agriculture

A couple thousand years later, during the Bronze Age, we developed advanced metalworking techniques, which allowed us to make better tools.

For example, bronze axes and bronze plows allowed farmers to clear and prepare larger areas for farming than those made from stone and wood.

As we entered the middle ages, we started creating dams, reservoirs, and water raising machines, resulting in complex irrigation systems.

Farming saw some of it’s biggest inventions in the 19th century.

The British Agriculture Revolution, which occurred between 1750 and 1850, popularized farming practices we still use today, like crop rotation, land reclamation, and woodland clearing.

During this time, farmers also replaced lower yielding crops, like rye, with higher yielding ones, like barley.

Before this time, standard agriculture practices could not keep up with rapid population growth, so it would come to a stop.

But the British Agriculture Revolution allowed for higher crop production that was able to sustain the growing population.

The same century saw many other revolutionary farming inventions.

For example, reapers, machines that cut and gather grains, were invented in the 1830s.

It was also when chemical pesticides were first successfully used on large commercial farms.

Plus, gasoline powered tractors were invented in Iowa in 1892, replacing the horse-pulled machines that were used before.


Productivity growth is still the major driver of U.S. agricultural growth

Technological developments in agriculture have been influential in driving changes in the farm sector. Innovations in animal and crop genetics, chemicals, equipment, and farm organization have enabled continuing output growth without adding much to inputs. As a result, even as the amount of land and labor used in farming declined, total farm output nearly tripled between 1948 and 2017.


Farming in autumn

October

October sees the turn of this year’s calves to be weaned. They are also put back into barns around this time, before the temperature drops too far. Ewes will be dipped to avoid infections, and their wool will be clipped around the tail area. The purpose of this is to ready the sheep for mating season.

The primary jobs in an arable context are cultivation and the drilling of the winter wheat, in preparation for next year’s crop yield. This time of year is also when crops such as potato and sugar beet will be harvested, so many farms in the north of the UK are busy during this period as a proportion of these crops are harvested in Lincolnshire and the surrounding counties.

British harvest: how long does the season last, when is harvest day, plus history and traditions

Harvest season marks an important date in the British farming calendar as crops are harvested for food and animal feed.

Hedge cutting is also an important task that begins at around this time of year. Farmers are often asked to help with hedge cutting on countryside roads, and this can continue all the way through until March. They will have to stop hedge cutting by then, as there are likely to be birds in hedgerows. Autumn blossoms include aster and cyclamen.

November

As winter starts to unfold, farms will start feeding their livestock more, instead of just letting them graze, because at this point the grass will stop growing and will deteriorate in quality. Because of the incoming colder temperatures, livestock will also usually be housed by November, if not before. On a farm with cattle, the male calves will be castrated before the onset of frost. Towards the end of the year, a number of tup, or ram, sales will happen, with corn also being sold around this time.

“For dairy farms, Christmas has to come second, as the cows need to be milked every day of the year.”

Arable farmers will be continuing to drill wheat, but the process will start to come to an end by mid-month. Liquid fertiliser will be applied to sugar beet fields, and the countryside in November sees a lot of ploughing going on, in preparation for next year’s harvest. It is also the toughest month for flowers, so the farm scenery may lack a range of colour.


Altering False Impressions

The agricultural revolution changed our species and our planet. As bands of hunter-gatherers began domesticating plants and animals, they quit the nomadic life, building villages and towns that endured for thousands of years.

A stable food supply enabled their populations to explode, and small egalitarian groups turned into kingdoms sprawling across hundreds of miles.

Agriculture originated in a few small hubs around the world, but probably first in the Fertile Crescent, a region of the Near East including parts of modern-day Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan. The evidence for full-blown agriculture there — crops, livestock, tools for food preparation, and villages — dates back about 11,000 years.

In the 1990s, archaeologists largely concluded that farming in the Fertile Crescent began in Jordan and Israel, a region known as the southern Levant. “The model was that everything started there, and then everything spread out from there, including maybe the people,” said Melinda A. Zeder, a senior research scientist at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

But in recent years, Dr. Zeder and other archaeologists have overturned that consensus. Their research suggests that people were inventing farming at several sites in the Fertile Crescent at roughly the same time. In the Zagros Mountains of Iran, for example, Dr. Zeder and her colleagues have found evidence of the gradual domestication of wild goats over many centuries around 10,000 years ago.

People may have been cultivating plants earlier than believed, too.

In the 1980s, Dani Nadel, then at Hebrew University, and his colleagues excavated a 23,000-year-old site on the shores of the Sea of Galilee known as Ohalo II. It consisted of half a dozen brush huts. Last year, Dr. Nadel co-authored a study showing that one of the huts contained 150,000 charred seeds and fruits, including many types, such as almonds, grapes and olives, that would later become crops. . A stone blade found at Ohalo II seemed to have been used as a sickle to harvest cereals. A stone slab was used to grind the seeds. It seems clear the inhabitants were cultivating wild plants long before farming was thought to have begun.

“We got fixated on the very few things we just happened to see preserved in the archaeological record, and we got this false impression that this was an abrupt change,” Dr. Zeder said. “Now we really understand there was this long period where they’re playing around with resources.”

Many scientists have suggested that humans turned to agriculture under duress. Perhaps the climate of the Near East grew harsh, or perhaps the hunter-gatherer population outstripped the supply of wild foods.

But “playing around with resources” is not the sort of thing people do in times of desperation. Instead, Dr. Zeder argues, agriculture came about as climatic changes shifted the ranges of some wild species of plants and animals into the Near East.

Many different groups began experimenting with ways of producing extra food, which eventually enabled them to start a new way of life: settling down in more stable social groups.


History of Organic Farming in the United States

At Purple Haze Farm in Washington ‘s Dungeness Valley, visitors can pick their own lavender bouquets from 50 varieties raised organically. Lavender thrives here because of low rainfall and mild winters. Photo by Rosemary Gray

History of Organic Farming in the U.S.

J.I Rodale, founder of the Rodale Research Institute and Organic Farming and Gardening magazine, is commonly regarded as the father of the modern organic farming movement. Beginning in the 1940s, Rodale provided the main source of information about “non-chemical” farming methods and was heavily influential in the development of organic production methods. Rodale drew many of his ideas from Sir Albert Howard, a British scientist who spent years observing traditional systems in India. Howard advocated agricultural systems reliant upon returning crop residues, green manures and wastes to soil, and promoted the idea of working with nature by using deep-rooted crops to draw nutrients from the soil.

By the 1970s, increased environmental awareness and consumer demand fueled the growth of the organic industry. However, the new organic industry suffered growing pains. Although there was general agreement on philosophical approaches, no standards or regulations existed defining organic agriculture. The first certification programs were decentralized, meaning that each state or certifying agent could determine standards based on production practices and constraints in their region. An apple farmer in New York has very different challenges than an apple farmer in California, for example.

The downside of this decentralized approach was a lack of clarity about what “organic” meant from state to state. A movement grew to develop a national organic standard to help facilitate interstate marketing. In response, Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in 1990 to develop a national standard for organic food and fiber production. OFPA mandated that USDA develop and write regulations to explain the law to producers, handlers and certifiers. OFPA also called for an advisory National Organic Standards Board to make recommendations regarding the substances that could be used in organic production and handling, and to help USDA write the regulations. After years of work, final rules were written and implemented in fall 2002.

Although the actual production techniques of organic food have not changed dramatically since the implementation of the national standards, “organic” now is a labeling term that indicates that food has been grown following the federal guidelines of the Organic Foods Production Act. The national standards also specify that any producers who sell over $5,000 annually in agricultural products and want to label their product “organic” must be certified by a USDA-accredited agency. Companies that process organic food must be certified, too.

Any farms or handling operations with less than $5,000 a year in organic agricultural products are exempt from certification. Those producers may label their products organic if they follow the standards, but they are prohibited from displaying the USDA Organic Seal.

The National Organic Standards

The national organic standards address the methods, practices and substances used in producing and handling crops, livestock and processed agricultural products. The standards specify that, in general, all natural (non-synthetic) substances are allowed in organic production and all synthetic substances are prohibited. The National List of Allowed Synthetic and Prohibited Non-Synthetic Substances contains specific exceptions to the rule. This summary is from the USDA National Organic Program (NOP).

Organic crop production standards specify:

  • Land will have no prohibited substances applied to it for at least 3 years before the harvest of an organic crop. Use of genetic engineering, ionizing radiation and sewage sludge is prohibited. Soil fertility and crop nutrients will be managed through tillage and cultivation practices, crop rotations, and cover crops, supplemented with animal and crop waste materials and allowed synthetic materials.
  • Preference will be given to the use of organic seeds and other planting stock.
  • Crop pests, weeds, and diseases will be controlled primarily through management practices including physical, mechanical, and biological controls. When these practices are not sufficient, a biological, botanical, or synthetic substance approved for use on the National List may be used.

The organic livestock standards, which apply to animals used for meat, milk, eggs, and other animal products, specify:

  • Animals for slaughter must be raised under organic management from the last third of gestation, or no later than the second day of life for poultry.
  • Producers are required to give livestock agricultural feed products that are 100 percent organic, but may also provide allowed vitamin and mineral supplements.
  • Organically raised animals may not be given hormones to promote growth, or antibiotics for any reason. Preventive management practices, including the use of vaccines, will be used to keep animals healthy.
  • Producers are prohibited from withholding treatment from a sick or injured animal however, animals treated with a prohibited medication may not be sold as organic.
  • All organically raised animals must have access to the outdoors, including access to pasture for ruminants.

A civil penalty of up to $10,000 can be levied on any person who knowingly sells or labels as organic a product that is not produced and handled in accordance with the National Organic Program regulations.


Watch the video: Harvest 2021 In full swing