Certification Policy Update
Certification Policy Update
By Jackie DeMinter, Certification Policy Manager
Origin of Livestock
On May 12, 2021, the comment period for the proposed rule on the origin of livestock was reopened with a 60 day comment period that closed July 12, 2021. MOSA submitted comments on the following topics.
1. Should the final rule prohibit the movement of transitioned cows between organic operations? MOSA agrees with the NOP’s 2015 proposed rule intent to allow for the movement and sale of organic animals, including transitioned animals, between organic dairy operations. We support allowing organic dairy operations to purchase transitioned animals for herd expansion or replacement animals. Once animals are transitioned they are organic animals for milk production though they do not qualify for organic slaughter.
2. Should the rule use the term “producer” or “operation” to describe the regulated entity?
MOSA’s 2015 comments made the suggestion to allow for a “dairy operation” to transition animals one time. A dairy operation would be defined as: An operation, with distinct physical premises locations identified, that is certified or is applying for certification of organic livestock and production of organic milk or milk products. The initial organic system plan must identify all premises locations included in the dairy operation.
3. Is an additional implementation timeframe necessary for organic dairies to comply?
MOSA supports an immediate implementation period. Transitions currently in progress should be able to finish.
4. The accuracy of the estimates in the Regulatory Impact Analysis. MOSA encouraged clients to comment on the accuracy of the RIA. Our comments acknowledged that the RIA focuses on bovine dairies and not sheep or goat dairies. Full impact to non-bovine dairy operations is unknown.
5. Should there be any exceptions to the one-time allowance requirement?
MOSA supports using variances for any exceptions that may be needed. Temporary variances are covered in NOS §205.290. Variances can be granted for a number of reasons, including damage caused by drought, wind, flood, excessive moisture, hail, tornado, earthquake, fire, or other business interruption. Scenarios we encounter could be considered damage that causes a business interruption. Some situations where an additional transition or a re-transition of the existing herd may become necessary include:
- Moving the farm to a new location which needs to transition to organic.
- Sheep and goat herds who cannot find commercially available replacement animals.
- Herds which have a significant loss due to sickness or disease.
- Loss of the organic milk buyer.
- Family illness, death or similar, which forces an operation to temporarily cease operations.
Variances are a regulated process where ultimately the NOP has the final decision making authority. Reasonable and practical decisions for additional transitions have our support, but continual transitions by the same operation does not. We do not think that there should be any scenarios enabling an operation to continually transition nonorganic animals to organic dairy production.
Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices
We were happy to see a statement from Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, on the Organic Livestock & Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule. The Agriculture Secretary has released the following statement in regard to the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices final rule:
“We intend to reconsider the prior Administration’s interpretation that the Organic Foods Production Act does not authorize USDA to regulate the practices that were the subject of the 2017 Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule. I have directed the National Organic Program to begin a rulemaking to address this statutory interpretation and to include a proposal to disallow the use of porches as outdoor space in organic production over time and on other topics that were the subject of the OLPP final rule. We anticipate sending the proposed rule to OMB within six to nine months from the date of the remand. We look forward to receiving public comments on those topics and, after reviewing the comments, USDA will publish a final rule.”
MOSA has implemented many of the policies required in the withdrawn OLPP final rule. We do not allow porches as outdoor access, and our space requirements and other policies align with the Accredited Certifiers Association best practices document. The final regulation should require compliance by all operations, and not allow for any sort of “grandfathering” of existing operations with porches as the only outdoor access area. We are anxiously awaiting further development on this regulation.
National List Final Rule
On June 25, 2021, a final rule amending the National List of Allowed and Prohibited substances was published. The additions to the National List are effective July 26, 2021, after which clients can use the new materials after MOSA review and approval.
This action adds:
- Oxalic acid to §205.603(b) as a pesticide for use in apiculture.
- Nonorganic pullulan to §205.605(a) for use only in tablets and capsules for dietary supplements in the “made with organic” labeling category. Natural and non gmo verification will be required.
- Collagen gel to §205.605(b) as a casing for use only when organic collagen gel is not commercially available. An organic search will be required. Nonorganic collagen gel produced through an enzymatic process will need to be non gmo verified. Colors and flavors added to the collagen gel must be approved.
National List Proposed Rule
A proposed rule amending the National List of Allowed and Prohibited substances was published March 25th. Comments closed May 24th, 2021 and a final rule is presumed to be forthcoming. Clients may not use materials proposed until a final rule is effective.
The rule would add:
- Potassium hypochlorite to §205.601(a) for crop production along with other chlorine materials, however prohibiting use in edible sprout production.
- Fatty alcohols to §205.601(k) as a plant growth regulator - specifically C6, C8, C10, and/or C12 fatty alcohols and only for sucker control in organic tobacco production. The §205.206(e) restriction applies.
And the rule would remove:
- Dairy cultures from §205.605(a), since microorganisms are listed and include dairy cultures. No changes would be necessary.
As a reminder, the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances identifies the synthetic substances that can be used, and the natural substances that may not be used, and a limited number of synthetic, natural, and nonorganic substances that can be used in or on processed products. Many materials have additional annotations which must be met in order to use the substance. Changes to the National List are initiated through petitions to remove or add a substance or through the NOSB’s sunset review process which occurs on a five year schedule for each listed material.
Natural Flavors Documentation updates
MOSA has updated our policies and documents for client use in order to fully implement the final rule on natural flavors. As a reminder, the final rule updated the annotation for flavors on 205.605(a) to require that organic flavors be used when commercially available.
Flavors—nonsynthetic flavors may be used when organic flavors are not commercially available. All flavors must be derived from organic or nonsynthetic sources only and must not be produced using synthetic solvents and carrier systems or any artificial preservative.
In order to verify that manufacturers are complying with the new organic flavor search requirements, MOSA developed new forms for manufacturers to use. MOSA clients using natural flavors as ingredients in organic products or those manufacturing organic flavors will need to be prepared to complete new paperwork during annual review.
- Natural Flavor Declaration - We updated the Natural Flavor Declaration with new requirements for ingredient verification, such as additional information on carriers, preservatives, and extraction solvents.
- Organic Flavor Search-Handler - This is a new form to document the organic flavor search. This new form has the same intent as other MOSA organic search forms, but is specific to flavors. This form is available in multiple formats for your use.
- Organic Flavor Commercial Availability Plan - This is a new form for the certified operator using or intending to use non-organic nonsynthetic (natural) flavors, or by a manufacturer of flavors using flavor substances as ingredients in or on processed products labeled as “organic” to document the commercial availability standard operating procedures.
- Organic Flavor Commercial Availability Manufacturer Affidavit - This form is a new optional form that can be completed by a flavor manufacturer contacted by a MOSA client during a commercial availability search as supporting documentation for the organic flavor search. It can be used as a supplement to document commercial availability, but is not to be used solely to determine commercial availability.
All new forms are available on the MOSA website.