Update on Paper Chain Planting Pots

Dear USDA-accredited certifier:

The National Organic Program (NOP) is sending this update on paper chain transplanting pots (or paper pots). On February 22, 2018, we sent certifiers a message indicating that paper pots could only be used through the 2018 growing season. The NOP is extending the allowed use of paper pots until further notice. Any additional changes to the allowance for the use of paper pots will be communicated to certifiers to provide adequate time to make any adjustments. For fairness and consistency in certifications across operations, all certifiers may allow paper pots during this extension period.

Many operations have been using this material, with approval by multiple certifiers, for years. Different certifiers have viewed paper pots differently, and decisions were made using valid criteria. The NOP stands by its February 2018 determination that certifiers who did not allow paper pots were correct in their decision-making. However, in this case, we recognize that many operations have come to rely on this tool in good faith as an approved element of their organic system plans.

Paper pots have been formally petitioned to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) via the National Organic Program as an allowed material in crop production. In addition to presenting a discussion document on the petitioned material, the NOSB passed a resolution at its Fall 2018 public meeting recommending that the NOP allow the continued use of paper pot usage while this review and potential NOP rule making proceed. Paper pots are similar to the current National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List) listing of newspaper or other recycled paper, which are in use in many soil-based systems. We agree that the NOSB’s resolution allows the program to extend the allowance for paper pots, while maintaining fidelity to the existing USDA organic regulations.

Fair and consistent certification is a vital component of organic integrity, and different decisions about materials have real economic and operational impacts on farms and businesses. All certifiers need to continuously monitor their material review processes to ensure alignment with the USDA organic regulations.

If you have any questions regarding this update, please contact your Accreditation Manager.

Thank you for your ongoing work to protect organic integrity around the world.


Accreditation and International Activities Division USDA-organic-logo


USDA | National Organic Program

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