Steve Smith said everything about Shamrock Farms in rural Lauderdale County is organic. The only thing missing is the official certification from the US Department of Agriculture. Smith, who runs the farm for owner Linda Kelley, holds up a stack of paper about twice the thickness of a Florence area telephone book and explains that’s part of the reason the farm is not certified. “The paperwork is massive to become certified,” Kelley said. Smith said it would cost about $10,000 to obtain and keep the certification.

Mike Reeves, a regional extension agent specializing in commercial horticulture, said most farms that seek the organic certification are selling their produce to wholesalers. “It’s an expensive, pretty lengthy process to maintain the certification,” Reeves said. “It takes a lot more work and generally you don’t produce as much. But on the other hand, it commands a higher price.”

One of the reasons the certification process was created, Reeves said, was because growers would claim their produce was organic when it really wasn’t.

“If you say you’re organic, you have to be certified,” Reeves said. “The big companies that buy in bulk, (farmers) have to have the certification to sell them.”

Click here for the complete story

Source: Russ Corey -