MOSA provides our clients with much more than just certification.

Joe Pedretti

MOSA Client Services Director

Certification Policy Update

By Jackie DeMinter, Certification Policy Manager

National Organic Program Updates

National List Final Rule

As a reminder, on December 27th, 2018 the National Organic Program (NOP) published a final rule amending the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for crops, livestock and handling. The rule changes the use restrictions for 17 substances and adds 16 new substances. The rule also removes the parasiticide Ivermectin as an allowed parasiticide for use in organic livestock production and amends regulations to allow the emergency use of other parasiticides (fenbendazole and moxidectin) in fiber-bearing animals. The rule now lists the botanical pesticide rotenone as a prohibited substance in organic crop production.

The final rule was effective January 28, 2019, except for amendments concerning the following materials which will be implemented on December 27, 2019.

  • Ivermectin (now prohibited)
  • Flavors (organic flavors required when commercially available)
  • Cellulose ( only powdered cellulose as an anti-caking agent (non-chlorine bleached) and filtering aid. Microcrystalline cellulose is prohibited.)
  • Glycerin
    • Reclassified as agricultural requiring organic commercial availability searching for use of nonorganic glycerin.
    • Annotation updated to require verification that nonorganic glycerin was produced from an agricultural source and processed using biological or mechanical/physical methods.
  • Carnauba wax (reclassified as agricultural)

MOSA’s new Organic Search-Handlers form should be used to document your annual searches for reclassified materials.

Refer to our last newsletter for a detail of all changes. We have implemented all changes accordingly and will be requiring updates to your file information as applicable to your operation. Most notably, we’ve been working on verification tools for the new methionine rule, which is covered separately in this newsletter.

The change to the flavors annotation has also sparked questions among clients. Beginning December 27, 2019 manufacturers using nonsynthetic natural flavors will be required to verify that they have searched for equivalent organic flavors before being approved to use the nonsynthetic flavors. MOSA’s Organic Search - Handlers form is preferred for documenting the search.

Additional National List Final Rule

On April 30, the NOP published a final rule to amend the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for livestock and handling. This final rule impacts two materials.

  • Elemental sulfur will be allowed for use in organic livestock production as a topical treatment to repel mites, fleas and ticks from livestock and their living spaces.
  • Potassium acid tartrate will be reclassified from a nonagricultural substance to an agricultural substance, requiring handlers to use the organic form when it is commercially available. Potassium acid tartrate is currently listed as a nonorganic ingredient allowed in organic products.

This final rule is effective May 30, 2019.

National List Proposed Rule

On February 15, 2019, the NOP published a proposed rule to amend the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for crops and handling. This proposed rule would allow:

  • Elemental sulfur to be used as a slug or snail bait to reduce crop losses.
  • Polyoxin D zinc salt to control fungal diseases when other organic fungicides have been found to be less effective.
  • Magnesium chloride to be reclassified from a synthetic to a non-synthetic substance, requiring handlers to ensure that the product complies with the non-synthetic classification by obtaining details about the source of the magnesium chloride and its full manufacturing process.

Submitted comments will be considered for a final rule. Continue to watch our newsletter for updates to the National List.

Certification of Mushrooms

On February 14, 2019 the NOP issued a notice to certifying agents about the review of pre-inoculated mushroom log products for organic mushroom production.

The notice clarified that operations producing *ready-to-use spawn are required to hold organic certification. Operations producing mushrooms have been notified that any previously approved nonorganic ready-to-use spawn products are no longer in compliance and products must be removed from organic production by September 1, 2019. (There was an error at the NOP that changed this date to August 1, but the correct date is September 1.) All clients using any nonorganic ready-to-use spawn will need to provide updates to your Organic System Plan paperwork this season. Mushrooms produced from nonorganic ready-to-use spawn can no longer be certified organic.

*The NOP is considering that ready-to-use spawn is a product that includes all components to produce organic mushrooms. Their notice clarified the pre-inoculated mushroom logs contain the spawn, growth medium and nutrients required to produce a mushroom crop upon watering and are not placed in new containers or growth medium at the certified operation.

Use of Paper Pots

MOSA is continuing to allow the use of paper pots we’ve approved in organic production while the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) process is underway. We expect the NOSB to have a final recommendation on the acceptability of paper pots in organic production later this fall. We’ll revisit our policy then and make any necessary updates. Continue to watch our newsletter for additional notifications.

Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) Rule Update - We’ve been talking about the OLPP rule for quite some time now with little movement, but that’s changing beginning this season. Certifiers are taking action to revise policies to be in line with the soon to be published Best Practices document based on the OLPP rule. Certifiers have the goal to consistently follow the same interpretation of the standards. At MOSA we’ve updated our policies and will be communicating any clarifications applying to your operation during review and inspection this season and next.

What are the biggest clarifications we are making?

Alterations -

  • Beak trimming must be done prior to 10 days of age. Producers should keep receipts showing that the alteration was performed prior to 10 days.
  • Tail docking in pigs is generally prohibited, unless there is a documented reason to dock individual animals.
  • Needle teeth trimming is restricted and may not be routinely used and must be used only with documentation that alternative methods to prevent harm failed. No more than the top ⅓ of teeth should be trimmed.

Parasite Control - We will be ensuring your parasite and pest prevention plans are thoroughly documented in your Organic System Plan (OSP). If you use ivermectin, fenbendazole, or moxidectin, be prepared to update your OSP.

Poultry living conditions - (all metrics are assuming a pullet is approximately 3 lbs and a laying hen is approximately 4.5 pounds and a broiler is approximately 5 pounds)

  • Bedding or litter material must be used on solid floor portions of housing. Dried manure, without bedding, is not considered adequate litter.
  • Dust bathing and scratch materials must be provided.
  • Air quality guidelines have been established: Ammonia levels should be maintained below 10 ppm, and must not exceed 25 ppm. Regular monitoring may be required if air quality is poor at inspection.
  • Minimum indoor space guidelines have been established for layers:
    • Floor litter housing = 1.5 sq ft / bird
    • Mobile housing = 1 sq ft / bird
    • Aviary housing = 1 sq ft / bird
    • Slatted/mesh floor housing = 1.2 sq ft / bird
    • All other housing = 2 sq ft / bird
  • Minimum indoor space guidelines have been established for pullets and broilers:
    • Pullets = 1 sq ft / bird
    • Broilers = 1 sq ft / bird
  • Perching space is required for birds that perch and all birds should be able to perch at the same time, except in aviaries where at least 55% of the birds should be able to perch at the same time.

Operations not meeting these minimum requirements will need to provide rationale regarding adequacy of space that is provided.

Outdoor access for poultry -

  • We will begin requiring outdoor access at 16 weeks for layers (pullets). All other poultry are required to be provided with outdoor access when fully feathered, as appropriate to the climate. Growers keeping pullets past 16 weeks will need to communicate plans to provide outdoor access after 16 weeks. New clients will need to provide land immediately, or after land transition is complete (maximum 36 months). Existing clients will need to plan to be in compliance within 5 years.
  • We will continue to verify that all birds have ready access to the outdoors and that outdoor access is encouraged. On operations where birds do not go outside on a regular basis, we will be requiring a plan to provide birds meaningful outdoor access.
  • Outdoor access areas must be at least 50% soil.
  • Minimum outdoor space guidelines have been established for pullets, broilers, and layers.
    • Layers = 2 sq ft / bird
    • Pullets = 1 sq ft / bird
    • Broilers = 1 sq ft / bird

Operations not meeting these minimum requirements will need to provide rationale regarding adequacy of space that is provided.

Mammalian living conditions -

  • Animals kept in stalls must be let out of the stalls daily.
  • Calf housing should be situated so that individual calves are not isolated.
  • Outdoor access time should be meaningful and maximized. Lanes to and from a destination are not generally regarded as adequate for the only outdoor access livestock receive.

Animal Transport - should be considered an extension of housing conditions.

  • Animal welfare and comfort should be observed.
  • Feed and water should be made available as needed especially if animals are in transport for more than 12 hours.

Origin of Livestock (OOL) Rule Clarification

Stakeholders continue to appeal to the NOP for action on the set-aside proposed rule and now it’s rumored that the NOP may take up rule making again. We are hopeful to see the proposed rule move forward in the coming months. As a reminder, the proposed rule was published on April 28, 2015. As written, the proposed rule would:

  • Allow a producer to transition nonorganic dairy animals to organic milk production one time. Multiple transitions would not be allowed.
  • Require that transition be conducted over a single 12 month period. All animals must end transition at the same time.
  • Continue to allow for the purchase/sale of transitioned animals between organic farms.
  • Enable herd expansion during transition by allowing for the purchase of certified organic animals which is not currently allowed as a routine practice.
  • Require that a transition be conducted on a dairy farm. Operations must milk animals.
  • Clarify that fiber bearing animals are required to be organic from the last third of gestation.

Certifiers are currently assessing policies and will be making some updates this season to align with this direction.

Human manure (aka humanure, milorganite, sewage sludge, biosolids)

Sewage sludge, also known as solid waste, biosolids, or primary sewage, is treated differently than livestock waste under the National Organic Standards. Sewage sludge includes all forms of human waste, including waste from septics, outhouses, composting toilets, chamber pots, municipal waste management systems, etc. If sewage sludge is added to land it will put that particular parcel of land out of organic certification for 36 months (205.105 (g)).

A large amount of sewage sludge is incorporated into various manure and compost products and sold as conventional farm and garden products. Soil amendments that contain biosolids can also be labeled “organic” due to the carbon based nature of the ingredient, so certified organic farmers have to be even more cautious. Milorganite is a common material we are asked about and its use is prohibited. MOSA encourages you to contact us before application of any materials that have not been previously approved.

Sanitizers used in organic food production

In order to be allowed for use, sanitizers used in organic food production must have active ingredients that are on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances for handling which include materials such as chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, phosphoric acid, peracetic acid and peroxyacetic acid. The use of unapproved products is only acceptable with certifier approval and with an adequate intervening event. An adequate intervening event may include an acceptable product or a water rinse, however the use of all products should also follow all label directions and be in compliance with any other regulations, such as the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance. A water rinse may not be appropriate or allowed by other regulatory authorities.

Handlers using tanker transport should ensure sanitation procedures are in compliance with all regulations. Wash tags should be verified for all incoming tankers and should state the full trade name of the sanitizer used and handler should ensure that the sanitizer is approved for use. All products used should be listed in your organic system plan paperwork.