USDA publishes organic program handbook

By Rita Jane Gabbett

USDA has published the first edition of a program handbook designed for those who own, manage, or certify organic operations.

†Prepared by the National Organic Program (NOP), the handbook provides guidance about the national organic standards and instructions that outline best program practices. It is intended to serve as a resource for the organic industry that will help participants comply with federal regulations.

The inaugural edition of the handbook provides guidance on the allowance of green waste in organic production systems, approval of liquid fertilizers in organic production, certification of organic yeast, processed animal manures in organic crop production, reassessed inert ingredients, and the calculation of dry matter intake for NOPís access to pasture requirements.

It also includes instructions concerning organic certification, such as recordkeeping, steps to certification, and organic certificates; accreditation procedures, such as how to apply to become an accredited certifying agent; international procedures, such as how USDA determines equivalence of foreign organic standards to those of the NOP; compliance and enforcement measures, such as how to handle complaints; and appeals procedures for certified operations or accredited agents.

Additionally, the handbook explains the difference between NOP guidance and instruction documents and outlines their purpose, legal effect, and the process by which the NOP authorizes, reviews, revises and disseminates them to the public. Future guidance documents will be issued through the notice and comment process outlined in the handbook.

The handbook is accessible here.
Organic Handbook

Printed copies can be made available upon request to Standards Division, National Organic Program, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 2646-S, Ag Stop 0268, Washington, D.C. 20250-0268; telephone: (202) 720-3252 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting†††††††††††††(202) 720-3252†††††end_of_the_skype_highlighting; fax: (202) 205-7808.

Dr. Teri Hamlin
North Region Agriculture Education
Georgia Department of Education
204C Four Towers University of Georgia
Athens, Ga 30602
706-552-4461 / 706-540-0032
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