Federal regulations are the laws authorized by major legislation enacted by Congress. The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 authorized USDA to establish the National Organic Program. We are responsible for developing the USDA organic standards. Our process of creating, amending, or removing regulations, referred to as rulemaking, can be described in four steps:
1. Initial Planning. Before beginning the rulemaking process, we must first determine that the regulatory action is authorized by the Organic Foods Production Act. We may initiate rulemaking for a variety of reasons:
- To describe new requirements
- To clarify existing language
- To amend the national List, based on recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board
2. Proposed Rule. We issue a notice of proposed rulemaking, which proposes to add, change, or delete regulatory language and includes a request for public comments during a specified time period.
3. Public Comments. We analyze all public comments on the proposed rule.
4. Final Rule. We analyze all public comments on the proposed rule.
Timeline. The rulemaking process is lengthy, taking anywhere from one to multiple years. Our timeline depends on multiple factors:
- Complexity or controversy associated with the topic
- Amount of public participation
- Other projects on our workplan