USDA issues final guidance on materials for organic crop production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) published final guidance on the Classification of Materials, and a list of Materials for Organic Crop Production.

The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (National List), part of the USDA organic regulations, includes synthetic substances that are permitted and natural substances that are prohibited for organic production. In addition, the National List includes all non-agricultural and non-organic agricultural substances that may be allowed in processed organic products.

As a result of the unique construction of the National List, sometimes certifiers and growers have questions about which natural substances are allowed in organic production. In addition, there can be confusion and inconsistency within the organic industry in determining which natural inputs are allowed.

The guidance on Classification of Materials implements recommendations of the National Organic Standards Board, and clarifies existing practices used to classify materials as synthetic or non-synthetic and as agricultural or non-agricultural. The guidance includes decision trees to help classify substances substances used in organic production and handling.

The guidance on Materials for Organic Crop Production includes tools for organic producers to understand which input materials are allowed in organic crop production, and a list of materials that are specifically prohibited in organic crop production.

Both guidance documents will be used by accredited certifying agents, certified operations, material evaluation programs, and other organic industry stakeholders. They can be found in the NOP Handbook.

On April 2, 2013, AMS published a notice in the Federal Register announcing the availability of draft guidance with a request for comments. AMS carefully reviewed the public comments, and a response to these comments is posted with the final guidance.

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