NOP Guidance on Biodiversity and Natural Resources Open for Comment

The National Organic Program (NOP) issued a draft guidance to clarify biodiversity and natural resources requirements. The Draft Guidance, “Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation for Certified Organic Operations,” is open for comment now through February 27, 2015.

The National Organic Standards require that certified organic operations “maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.” They define natural resources as the “physical, hydrological, and biological features of a production operation, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.”

The Draft Guidance specifies the roles of certified organic operations, certifiers, and inspectors in conserving biodiversity and natural resources. It provides a list of sample practices that maintain or improve natural resources and biodiversity. The Draft Guidance states that conservation plans developed to qualify for Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) programs may be used in the Organic System Plan as evidence of compliance with this part of the standards.

The NOP encourages organic producers, handlers, certifiers, consumers, and others to review and comment on the draft guidance. The draft guidance is posted online. Instructions for submitting comment via mail are included in this Federal Register notice. Click on this link to submit a comment online via regulations.gov. Comments are due February 27.

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