In January 2022, Certified Organic farmers throughout New Jersey received a letter from the NJ Department of Agriculture announcing that it would be “transitioning our service from inspection and certification to organic education, marketing and development which will serve to grow the organic sector in the Garden State.” While this initially served as a shock to many growers, the transition presents opportunities that were previously unavailable to the organic sector in the state. Accredited Certifying Agencies are prohibited from offering technical support and guidance to the farms that they certify, which has restricted NJDA’s ability to perform outreach, marketing and education since it began inspecting and certifying organic operations in 2007. NOFA NJ is confident that the NJDA’s improved offerings will continue to support our community. As a community, NJ farmers and associated nonprofits cooperated to solicit feedback from NJ organic growers and farms and presented guidance to NJDA regarding their change in services. These letters can be found as attachments (see links below).
Ultimately, these events have proven to be an opportunity for NOFA NJ to further its outreach, support and advocacy for organic farms in NJ. Certification Roundtables were offered to the public as part of our 32nd Annual Winter Conference and invited farmers to connect with area certifiers (more information, along with video recordings of the roundtables, can be found on our Organic Certification page). The surveying of information surrounding the needs of NJ organic and regenerative farmers will serve to inform future NOFA NJ programming. Most important, this challenge has catalyzed and re-energized NOFA NJ and several farmers within our community to become more involved with agricultural policy and advocacy within NJ.
Going forward, please consider taking part in advocating for an organic future in NJ! Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in attending NOFA NJ Policy Committee meetings or would like to serve as an organic representative at your respective County Board of Agriculture Meetings. Last, be sure to sign up for the NOFA NJ e-newsletter, which keeps our community informed of important opportunities to advocate for organic and regenerative farming in NJ and throughout the United States.
NJDA Notice to Organic Operations 1-7-22
NOFA NJ Press Release 3/28/2022
Foodshed Alliance Letter to NJDA