Natural Foods Merchandiser

What are recent changes to the National Organic Program?

The National Organic Program regulates the standards for production, handling, product labeling, certification and accreditation of organically produced agricultural products according to organic rules established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The NOP Final Rule took effect in 2001 and was fully implemented in 2002. Since then, there have been a handful of changes. The following have occurred within the past year.

  • Access to pasture. The rule, which took effect June 17, requires producers to provide year-round outdoor access for all animals. It requires organic animals to be out on pasture for no less than 120 days a year and to get at least 30 percent of their feed from pasturing during the grazing season. The rule also recognizes pasture as a crop.

  • Personal care products. The National Organic Standards Board recommended in November 2009 that the USDA crack down on the misuse of the term “organic” for personal care products and encouraged the agency to police organic claims and develop a complete federal organic personal care product program.

    The Organic Trade Association agreed in April to endorse regulation of personal care products “with a new standard within NOP as the best long-term policy option to address the current organic situation in organic personal care,” said Laura Batcha, OTA’s chief of policy and external relations. “[That] would be the best way to accomplish mandatory third-party certification of personal care products making organic claims, provide strong mechanisms for compliance and enforcement and remove products from the market that have no organic content but make an organic claim.”

  • Staffing, training and development. Batcha said the OTA supports changes under way at the NOP for staffing resources to complete standards development and certifier training, including completion of a program manual for certifiers. “This will resolve many issues of consistency in interpretation of standards and provide the market stability necessary for organic to thrive,” she said.

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