Organic Regulations

The National Organic Program (NOP) develops the rules & regulations for the production, handling, labeling, and enforcement of all USDA organic products. This process, referred to as rulemaking, involves input from the National Organic Standards Board (a Federal Advisory Committee made up of fifteen members of the public) and the public. The NOP also maintains a Handbook that includes guidance, instructions, policy memos, and other documents that communicate the organic standards.

Regulatory References

  • USDA organic regulations. 7 CFR Part205 includes all USDA organic standards, including prohibited practices, requirements, and the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
  • Program Handbook. This compilation of guidance documents, policy memos, and instructions is intended to clarify policies and assist those who own, manage, or certify organic operations with complying with NOP regulations.
  • Organic Foods Production Act of 1990. The Act that established the NOP and its authority to enforce agricultural products sold, labeled, or represented as “organic” within the U.S.
  • Preamble. If you are interested in the history of the NOP standards, you may want to review the preamble to the final rule, which established the National Organic Program.

Temporary Variances

The Administrator may grant temporary variances from the production and handling requirements of the USDA organic regulations for the following reasons: natural disasters declared by the Secretary; damage caused by severe weather or other business interruption; or practices used for the purpose of conducting research in organic production or handling.

Standards-Related Fact Sheets