When organic growers and enthusiasts of organic food think of pesticides, many are not picturing the products that are allowed in organic agriculture under the National Organic Program Rule. But truth be told, any substance used to kill or hassle organisms (most commonly weeds, insects, rodents, bacteria and fungi) that attack crops, is considered a pesticide. Therefore, approved-for-organic pest or disease control inputs such as those made from garlic, microorganisms, clay, sulfur, copper, or hydrogen peroxide are all pesticides. Some, if used improperly, can cause harm to people and the environment. As the farmer applying these products on your farm, you do not need a special applicator or handler license. However, you are required to follow the label instructions on each product you use, and if you have employees, additional safety regulations apply. Pesticide application records must also be maintained, for both BPC inspectors and MCS organic inspectors.
If you sell crops and you are producing them organically, you must be using pest control products that meet several requirements:
1. Products must be in compliance with the National Organic Rule. This is why you must let MOFGA Certification Services know about your pesticide control products before you use them.
2. Products must also be labeled for commercial use. In other words, if the pesticide label states that it can only be used on home gardens or in back yard landscaping, then it must not be used by farmers producing crops for sale. Read and follow all pesticide labels carefully. They are legal contracts.
3. In the State of Maine, all products used as pesticides, even ones that do not have to be registered with EPA, must be registered with the State. There is a website you can use to check if products are registered in Maine:
4. Making your own pesticide formulations is not allowed and may pose food safety issues.
We offered three training sessions with the Maine Board of Pesticide Control (BPC) this year and we plan to schedule more this coming winter. Organic growers can contact BPC directly with questions:
For information on Certification & Licensing, Pesticide Laws & Regulations, and the Worker Protection Standard, visit the Maine Board of Pesticides Control, or contact: