AMS No. 029-12
Michael T. Jarvis (202) 720-8998
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2012--The National Organic Program (NOP) published draft guidance today with request for comments. The draft guidance clarifies the certification requirements for handlers of unpackaged organic bulk commodities and specifies that handlers of bulk organic products—including grain, soybeans, hay, milk and livestock—must be certified or be covered under another operation’s organic certification.
The draft guidance aligns with current USDA organic regulations that require operations that handle organic products to be certified except for retail food establishments and businesses that only handle packaged organic products.
The NOP regulations currently state that handlers of packaged organic products do not need organic certification if the products remain in the same container. Since bulk organic commodities do not remain in the same container, the NOP is clarifying that certification of these handlers is required.
“Handling and storing boxes of packaged organic granola bars is very different from handling bulk commodities,” noted Miles McEvoy, Deputy Administrator for the NOP. “The draft guidance demonstrates how organic integrity is maintained from farm to market.”
The draft guidance clarifies that companies that receive or store unpackaged organic commodities must be certified or covered under another operation’s certification system.
This draft guidance responds to a recommendation by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), a citizen advisory board to the NOP. In October 2010, the NOSB requested that the NOP clarify how existing exclusions to organic certification should be applied to handlers of bulk, unpackaged organic products.
Once finalized, the guidance will be announced through the Federal Register and incorporated into the NOP’s “Program Handbook: Guidance and Instructions for Accredited Certifying Agents (ACAs) and Certified Operations.” The Handbook provides those who own, manage, or certify organic operations with guidance and instructions that can assist them in complying with the NOP regulations. A current edition of the Program Handbook is available at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nopprogramhandbook
Specific directions and guidelines for submitting comments are available in a notice published in the Federal Register, identified by document number AMS-NOP-11-0073; NOP-11-14 (enter this number as the keyword/ID in the search bar at www.regulations.gov
). To ensure that the NOP considers all public input before issuing final guidance, interested parties should submit comments by April 3, 2012.
For further information about the draft guidance, please contact Melissa R. Bailey, Ph.D., Director, Standards Division, National Organic Program (NOP), USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 2646-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268, Telephone: (202) 720-3252, Email: NOP.firstname.lastname@example.org
, or visit the NOP website at www.ams.usda.gov/nop
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