Certification Policy Update
National Organic Program (NOP) Updates
Origin of Livestock (OOL) Proposed Rule
The second comment period on the proposed rule closed at the end of last year and we are hoping to see the final rule published this year. During an update for the recent National Organic Standards Board meeting, the NOP noted that more than 2,100 comments were reviewed from 2015 and 2019 and they have completed their draft of the final rule. They stated that the draft of the final rule is moving through the clearance process at the USDA and following the USDA’s review, the final rule will move onto the Office of Management and Budget for a final review. This process can take a very long time, so we’ll keep you updated along the way. The NOP’s most recent update is available on the National Organic Program Organic Integrity Learning Center, covered below.
•While we don’t know the specific changes the NOP made during drafting of the final rule, the proposed rule published on April 28, 2015 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, including dairy youngstock, must end transition at the same time. All animals must consume 3T or organic feed during transition.
•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 during transition.
•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.
Organic Livestock and Poultry Production Rule (OLPP)
On April 23, 2020, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published a Federal Register Notice requesting public comment on an Economic Analysis Report related to the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule (published on January 19, 2017) and final rule withdrawal (published on March 13, 2018). This action is a direct response to the court action that the Organic Trade Association initiated. The OTA stated, “USDA published this report in response to a Court order that agreed with the Organic Trade Association’s lawsuit against USDA that the OLPP Rule was withdrawn based on a flawed economic analysis. Finding that USDA had voluntarily conceded the Organic Trade Association charges rather than proceed to judgment, the court ordered the matter returned to USDA for a 180-day period for the agency to correct its errors. Based on our preliminary review of the USDA’s Economic Analysis Report, we identify several instances where USDA is manipulating variables in the cost-benefit calculation to favor data points that maximize costs and minimize benefits.
•Productivity: In the OLPP Final Rule, USDA established egg production rates at 24.77 dozen eggs per laying hen per year and the new Report indicates a reduction to 23.04 dozen eggs per laying hen per year.
•Mortality: The Report seeks to calculate cost estimates that take into account a 3% increase in mortality rates (from 5% to 8%) as a result of OLPP Rule’s new requirement for outdoor access.
•Willingness to Pay: The Report carriers forward estimated values of consumer willingness to pay that reduced by half the values that were used to establish the OLPP Final Rule”
Comments were open until May 26th. We sent a notification to all poultry producers encouraging them to comment with information about mortality rate, annual egg production, and overall compliance with the rule. As a reminder, this rule was intended to:
•Clarify how producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry to ensure their health and well-being throughout life, including transport and slaughter.
•Specify which physical alterations are allowed and prohibited in organic livestock and poultry production.
•Establish minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for poultry.
National Organic Program Organic Integrity Learning Center
The Organic Integrity Learning Center (OILC) was developed by the NOP to provide free online training to support the professional development of organic professionals working to protect organic integrity. To learn more about the OILC visit usdablackboard.com. The learning center is available to the public after registering for an account. To sign up for an account send an email to USDA-NOP@apvit.com. Subject line: Request USDA NOP OILC Account(s). Include your desired user name, first name, last name, organization, and email address in the body of the email. Courses currently available in the learning center include:
•An Introduction to the USDA Organic System
•Sound and Sensible Organic Certification
•Fundamentals of Inspection
•Advanced Inspections: Investigations
•Compliance and Enforcement: Adverse Actions, Appeals, and Reinstatements
•Import Oversight: Essentials
•Organic Dairy Compliance
•NOP Presentations (includes the NOP update presentation)
We encourage all clients to take courses related to your organic production.
Many stakeholders in the industry are working together to develop additional lessons and new courses for the learning center. MOSA (Jackie DeMinter) was a contributing certifier member for a new lesson on conducting feed audits for the Organic Dairy Compliance course which the Accredited Certifiers Association is developing. The course is intended to help learners understand how to determine Dry Matter Demand including the records necessary for completing calculations.
Some of the upcoming courses include:
Recordkeeping, Organic System Plans, Traceability Techniques, Sampling and Testing, Materials Reviews, Organic Trade Arrangements and Labeling.
Keep an eye on the learning center for new courses to be added.
Strengthening Organic Enforcement Upcoming Proposed Rule
The Strengthening Organic Enforcement proposed rule is planned for publication this spring and will include updates to the USDA organic regulations for greater oversight of complex supply chains.
In a notice to the trade community, the NOP commented, “Organic products include food, fiber and feed, in packaged and bulk form, all of which are regulated by the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, National Organic Program (NOP). Organic agriculture is one of the fastest growing sectors in the food market. Protecting the integrity of the organic label is more important than ever, as the industry continues to grow. The proposed changes to the organic regulations will improve farm-to-market traceability of organic products, deter fraud, and bolster confidence in the USDA organic label.” The NOP noted operations that could be affected by the rule are those that import or export organic goods, assist others in meeting import/export regulations, buy or sell organic products (non-retail), negotiate sales between buyers and sellers (brokers), load or unload organic goods. The operations that should not be affected are retailers or those that simply transport or store organic products.
Once the rule is published for comments, MOSA staff will quickly set to analyzing the impacts for clients and MOSA. The NOP expects to publish the final rule in 2020 with a 12 month implementation period so feedback and preparedness will be essential.
National List Final Rules
The NOP has reviewed and accepted the NOSB’s 2020 sunset review recommendations and is renewing the listings of the following substances until 2025. §205.601 National List materials that will retain their current listing include: Alcohols: ethanol and isopropanol, sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate, mulches, compost feedstocks, aqueous potassium silicate, elemental sulfur, lime sulfur, hydrated lime, liquid fish, sulfurous acid, ethylene gas, and microcrystalline cheesewax. §205.603 materials include: alcohols: ethanol and isopropanol, aspirin, biologics, electrolytes, glycerin, phosphoric acid, hydrated lime, and mineral oil. §205.605 materials include: calcium carbonate, flavors, gellan gum, oxygen, potassium chloride, alginates, calcium hydroxide, ethylene, glycerides, magnesium stearate, phosphoric acid, potassium carbonate, sulfur dioxide, and xanthan gum. §205.606 materials include: fructooligosaccharides, gums, lecithin, and tragacanth gum. Each approved material has been determined to be necessary for organic production and/or handling and remains listed with any current annotations.
The renewal of the substances will avoid any unnecessary disruption in the organic industry that would result from removal.
One material was also approved to relist as prohibited for use in organic production. §205.602 will continue to list potassium chloride as prohibited with the annotation —unless derived from a mined source and applied in a manner that minimizes chloride accumulation in the soil.
National List Upcoming Rules
The NOP also intends to publish rules in 2020 including:
--A final rule for the Fall 2018 NOSB Recommendations which were covered in the proposed rule published on October 18, 2019. The changes included listing:
•Blood meal made with sodium citrate on §205.601 to be used as a soil amendment.
•Natamycin on §205.602 as prohibited in organic crop production.
•Tamarind seed gum on §205.606 to be used as a nonorganic ingredient in organic handling when an organic form is not commercially available.
--A proposed rule for Spring 2019 Recommendations. NOSB recommended adding:
•Oxalic acid dihydrate to §205.603(b) “as topical treatment, external parasiticide or local anesthetic as applicable” with the annotation “For use as a pesticide solely for apiculture.”
•Pullulan at §205.605(a) for use only in tablets and capsules for dietary supplements labeled “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s)).”
•Collagen gel casings at §205.606
We encourage you to comment on the proposed rule if these materials are important to your organic production.
--A proposed rule for Fall 2019 Recommendations. Changes include:
•Adding fatty alcohols C6, C8, C10, C12 naturally derived at §205.601 for sucker control on organic tobacco crops.
•Adding potassium hypochlorite at §205.601(a): Chlorine materials - For use in water for irrigation purposes, residual chlorine levels in the water in direct crop contact or as water from cleaning irrigation systems applied to soil must not exceed the maximum residual disinfectant limit under the Safe Drinking Water Act.
•Removing dairy cultures from §205.605(a). While there is widespread support for the use of dairy cultures, the NOSB believes that this listing is now redundant and is covered by the listing for microorganisms. This removal would result in no changes for MOSA ingredient approval.