Spring 2022 Certification Policy Update
Certification Policy Update
By Jackie DeMinter, Certification Policy Manager
National Organic Program Proposed Rules
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) proposes amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) section of the USDA’s organic regulations to implement recommendations submitted to the Secretary of Agriculture by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). Find the proposed rule here: National List Proposed Rule: Document Number AMS-NOP-21-0060; NOP-21-02
Paper-based Crop Planting aid: The rule proposes to add paper-based planting aids to the National List for use in organic crop production. The proposed rule would add to §205.2 Terms Defined: Paper-based crop planting aid. A material that is comprised of at least 60% cellulose based fiber by weight, including, but not limited to, pots, seed tape, and collars that are placed in or on the soil and later incorporated into the soil, excluding biodegradable mulch film. Up to 40% of the ingredients can be nonsynthetic, other permitted synthetic ingredients at §205.601(j), or synthetic strengthening fibers, adhesives, or resins. Contains no less than 80% biobased content as verified by a qualified third-party assessment (e.g., laboratory test using ASTM D6866 or composition review by qualified personnel). Added nutrients must comply with §§205.105, 205.203, and 205.206.
In addition the rule also proposes to amend §205.601 by revising paragraph (o) to include as follows: §205.601 Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production.
(o) Production aids:
(2) Paper-based crop planting aids as defined in §205.2. Virgin or recycled paper without glossy paper or colored inks.
We encouraged clients using paper-based crop planting aids to comment. MOSA is poised to re-review products currently approved to ensure continued compliance with a final rule when published, however we urge manufacturers to list with the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) to ensure consistency determining allowance.
Wood Rosin: The rule proposes to correct the spelling of wood “resin” found at §205.605(a) to “rosin.”
Low-acyl gellan gum: The rule also proposes to add low-acyl gellan gum, a food additive used as a thickener, gelling agent, and stabilizer; and paper-based crop planting aids to the National List, to §205.605(b) as a nonagricultural synthetic substance allowed for use in “organic” and “made with organic” processed products.
Comments were due by April 4, 2022. You can view all comments submitted on this proposed rule to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at https://www.regulations.gov/.
National Organic Program Final Rules
A NOP Final Rule was published on 2/28/2022 which removes fourteen ingredients and two substances from the National List and retains (or “renews”) two substances on the National List. Find the final rule here: National Organic Program; Amendments to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (2022 Sunset). This rule is effective on March 30, 2022.
This final rule removes the following synthetic substances, which are currently allowed in organic crop and livestock production (§§205.601 and 205.603):
Vitamin B1 (crop production); and
Procaine (livestock production).
The compliance date for the amendments that remove vitamin B1 and procaine from the National List is March 15, 2023. Farmers will need to discontinue use on or before this date.
Additionally, NOP is removing the following nonorganic ingredients, which are currently allowed in organic handling (§§205.605 and 205.606):
- Alginic acid
- Colors (black currant juice color, blueberry juice color, carrot juice color, cherry juice color, grape juice color, paprika color, pumpkin juice color, turmeric extract color)
- Konjac flour
- Sweet potato starch
- Turkish bay leaves
- Whey protein concentrate
The compliance date for all of the handling materials is March 15, 2024. Processors will need to discontinue use of any of the above ingredients on or before this date. Products in the stream of commerce after the compliance date that are labeled as “organic” or “made with organic (specified ingredients or food group(s))” may contain substances removed in this final rule if manufactured prior to the compliance date. We encourage manufacturers using any of the above ingredients to proactively source alternatives and to communicate your plan for discontinuance to MOSA.
Finally, this rule renews sucrose octanoate esters for organic crop and livestock production and oxytocin for organic livestock production. The new sunset date for the two substances (three listings on the National List) is March 15, 2027.
A NOP Final Rule published 3/23/2022 adds two materials to the National List and removes one material from the National List. Find the final rule here: National Organic Program: National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, Crops and Handling from October 2019 National Organics Standards Board. This rule is effective on April 22, 2022.
This final rule adds potassium hypochlorite - for use in water for irrigation purposes to §205.601(a)(2) in organic crop production. This amendment allows the use of potassium hypochlorite in organic crop production for the purposes of cleaning irrigation equipment and treating irrigation water and does not extend to other uses.
Additionally, this rule amends the National List to add fatty alcohols (C6, C8, C10, and/or C12) to §205.601(k) plant growth regulators as a synthetic substance allowed for sucker control in organic tobacco production. The fatty alcohol designations C6, C8, C10, and C12 correspond to 1-hexanol, 1-octanol, 1-decanol, and 1-dodecanol. Fatty alcohols can be derived from fats or oils (most commonly coconut oil, palm kernel oil, lard, tallow, rapeseed oil, soybean oil, and corn oil) or from petroleum products. Applying fatty alcohols to tobacco plants, generally in the presence of a surfactant (which must also be allowed), selectively kills or inhibits sucker (secondary stems) growth. Fatty alcohols have been deemed necessary to provide a safer and effective method of de-suckering tobacco plants. Removal of suckers facilitates growth of the harvestable leaves, reduces pest pressure, and increases crop yield. §205.206(e) restriction applies.
Finally, this rule removes the individual listing for dairy cultures from §205.605(a), however the removal will not affect the allowance of dairy cultures in organic production and organic products since dairy cultures will continue to be allowed under the microorganisms listing also in §205.605(a).
Update to Civil Monetary Penalty Amount --Inflation Adjustments for 2022
A final rule effective February 15, 2022 adjusted the monetary civil penalty amounts to account for a 5+% inflation rate. The new maximum amount for violations in the organic sector is $20,130. Civil penalties are assessed to operations knowingly labeling or selling a product as organic except when sold in accordance with the National Organic Standards.
Reminder - Selling Dairy Livestock?
Don’t forget to provide the animal’s identification and organic slaughter eligibility status to the buyer, slaughter facility or sales facility. Animals must be individually identified (i.e. ear tags in place). Removable back tags are not sufficient to maintain organic traceability. Your livestock sales records will need to clearly trace back to your Livestock List showing individual animals’ organic slaughter eligibility. If you sell organic livestock either independently or through a sales facility, your records will need to show how you verify slaughter eligibility for buyers of your organic livestock. If an animal’s slaughter eligibility is not clear, MOSA automatically assumes that animals are not organic eligible. MOSA has created a new Slaughter Eligibility Verification form for sellers to provide to their buyers. Include a copy of your certificate with this form when presenting it to your buyer or sales facility. Contact the MOSA office to request a copy of this form be sent to you or download it from our website.
Biosecurity and avian influenza are recent topics to pay attention to with confirmed cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in several states. As a reminder, the NOP has advised us that if local, state, or federal health authorities determine that additional action is needed in the areas we certify due to a direct threat in your area, we are to work with our clients to determine what emergency measures are necessary, and for how long. If you become aware of a threat in your area, contact MOSA to discuss your plans. Be sure to update your Organic System Plan with information about all animals on your operation, including nonorganic poultry.