Natural Foods Merchandiser

USDA clarifies Harvey ruling

The U.S. Department of Agriculture published a proposed rule last week to clarify the final court order in the Harvey vs. Johanns suit, and to implement congressional amendments to the Organic Foods Production Act.

The proposed rule states that only nonorganically produced items listed in section 205.606 of the organic standards (the "National List") may be used in products labeled organic or made with organic ingredients, and only when organic versions of such ingredients are not commercially available.

The proposed rule also eliminates the so-called 80/20 feed provision. Transitioning dairies would no longer be able to use 20 percent nonorganic feed during the first nine months of whole-herd conversion from conventional to organic production. The proposed rule would allow crops and forage from land in its third year of organic management to be fed to animals transitioning to organic.

The proposed rule "succinctly offers clear and unambiguous resolution to issues raised by the Harvey lawsuit and the 2005 legislation, and leaves intact two very important provisions of the original rule," said Caren Wilcox, executive director of the Organic Trade Association.

The proposed rule can be viewed at, and is open for comments until May 12.

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