MOFGA’s 2023 Certification Program Report


MOFGA’s certification program had a busy but productive year in 2023, completing all required inspections and reviews, all while navigating implementation of the largest U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Organic Program (NOP) rule change since its inception in 2002. The Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) rule became effective on March 20, 2023, and will be fully implemented on March 19, 2024.

SOE aims to provide much more oversight and enforcement of the organic regulations throughout the entire organic global supply chain. One of the most important ways SOE does this is by eliminating exemptions for operations that were previously exempt, mainly in the processor/handler categories. Brokers, traders, importers, exporters, distributors, etc. are now required to become certified so there is NOP and certification agency oversight in these important areas of the supply chain. The hope is that these new requirements, among many others within the SOE rule, will help to curb fraud in the supply chain, as we’ve seen several high-profile fraud cases both domestically and internationally over the last decade. For more information about the new SOE rule, please visit the USDA’s website (

Overall, MOFGA Certification Services (MCS) had a successful year, maintaining our current number of certified organic producers, while also working very hard on SOE implementation. We had nearly the same number of new applicants as we had operations who surrendered their certificates. Given the ongoing dairy crisis and discoveries of PFAS chemical contamination throughout the region, we feel this was a positive result. MCS continues to see growth opportunities by servicing operations in New Hampshire, and we expect an overall bump in the number of applications in 2024 due to many operations needing to become certified due to the SOE rule.

The following is a snapshot of metrics at year-end, along with other 2023 highlights.

Certification by the Numbers

  • MOFGA Certified Organic Producers — 526.
  • Total production categories — 820.
    • Mixed vegetable and crop farms — 380.
    • On-farm processors — 91.
    • Dairies — 57.
    • Livestock (non-dairy) — 40.
    • Processor/handlers — 91.
    • Maple syrup — 53.
    • Wild blueberry operations — 58.
    • Mushroom growers — 16.
    • Sea vegetable operations — 20.
  • MOFGA Certified Clean Cannabis producers — 14.
  • Total inspections completed in 2023 (annual, unannounced, team, pesticide residue, additional, etc.) — 685.
  • 2023 applicants — 45.
  • 2023 surrenders — 44.
  • Certified acreage — 56,650.
  • $122 million in gross sales reported by organic producers in 2022.

USDA National Organic Program (NOP)

In addition to the SOE rule, the NOP issued the Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS)final rule, which aims to implement some significant animal welfare standards to the regulation. The rule became effective on January 12, 2024, and has an implementation date of January 2, 2025, for most parts of the new rule. There is a January 2, 2029, implementation date for operations to update poultry housing to conform to new stocking rate requirements and other significant provisions. For more information on OLPS, please visit the USDA’s website (

The NOP plans to continue its rulemaking backlog, with the proposed rules for mushroom production and pet food forthcoming in 2024.

Looking Forward

As we look forward to the year ahead, we are hopeful that we will see another strong year of applicants applying for certification in our programs and continued growth for our existing operations. We are excited to be participating in the USDA’s Transition to Organic Partnership Program (TOPP), which aims to transition significant amounts of agricultural production in the United States to organic over the next four years. MCS and MOFGA are the lead organizations for Maine in the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic cohort and are managing a mentorship program as well as working with project partners, the University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Maine Grain Alliance. Look for many TOPP events and support in 2024 and beyond! For more information, please visit

We look forward to continuing to serve the organic producers and eaters in our region and state through our certification services and upholding the promise and original intent of “Certified Organic by MOFGA.”

– Chris Grigsby, MOFGA Certification Services Director                

This article was originally published in the spring 2024 issue of The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener.

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