National Organic Program Updates

As 2016 winds down, the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) is not slowing down!

  • On December 6, NOP published draft guidance on “Calculating the Percentage of Organic Ingredients in Multi-Ingredient Products”.  Although the existing USDA organic regulations establish labeling categories for organic products based on the percentage of organic ingredients in the product, certifying agents have interpreted the requirements for calculating the percent of organic ingredients differently.
    The draft guidance clarifies the standards for calculating organic percentages for finished products, including multi-ingredient products that contain ingredients that are actually composed of more than one ingredient.  The draft guidance, which will help farms, businesses, certifiers and other stakeholders implement the USDA organic standards consistently, supersedes “NOP Policy Memo 11-9,” dated October 31, 2011, which is now obsolete.
    The public comment period on this draft guidance will close on February 6, 2017.  Feel free to contact me if you’d like assistance in drafting and submitting comments.
  • The National Agricultural Statistics Service’s (NASS) Agricultural Statistics Board released the results of the 2014 and 2015 Organic Certifier Survey.  NASS collected data on acreage and livestock data for years 2014 and 2015 from USDA-accredited organic certifying agents in the United States.  Published information includes the number of certified organic operations along with the number of acres certified for various crops, and the reported livestock and poultry certified as organic.  The report is available at: 2014 and 2015 Organic Certifier Survey.
  • The USDA Organic Integrity Database has moved to a new server with a new web address, leading to speedier searches and data uploads.  Check out the list of USDA certified organic farms and businesses today and update your bookmark to the new address: https://organic.ams.usda.gov/integrity.
  • The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Dairy Market News recently published the Dairy Organic report.  Published bi-weekly, this report provides organic price information for dairy products and highlights market trends.  The report also includes highlights on organic milk sales for Federal Milk Orders and insights for U.S. and international markets.  For more information on organic dairy product markets, view the Biweekly Dairy Organic Report.
  • The AMS Specialty Crops Market News recently published the National Specialty Crops Organic Summary.  Published daily, this report provides organic price information at terminal markets, shipping points, and retail advertised prices throughout the U.S.  The report highlights prices for 133 organic fruits, vegetables, herbs, and other specialty crops as well as movement data including domestic shipment volumes and import information.  For more information on market trends for organic specialty crops, view the National Specialty Crops Organic Summary.
  • The NOP conducted a review of the California State Organic Program (CA SOP) and approved its continued operation as a State Organic Program.  State Organic Programs provide the opportunity for a state to oversee organic production and handling operations within its state, and California has the only approved State Organic Program.  The CA SOP is authorized under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, the USDA organic regulations, and the California Organic Products Act of 2003.  You can access the memorandum authorizing the CA SOP to continue operating as a State Organic Program and read more about the program on the AMS website.

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