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Fix in California Organic Processing Rules Signed into Law

by Jane Sooby |

Governor Gavin Newsom signed SB 406, the Health Care Omnibus Bill, into law last week. Authored by California Senator Richard Pan, the bill includes a section that repeals the requirement for organic processors and handlers to print their California organic registration number on all transfer documents including bills of lading and invoices. 

Concern about this requirement was raised to the Processor Subcommittee of the state’s organic advisory board, the California Organic Products Advisory Committee (COPAC), earlier this year by another accredited certification agency because some of the operations they certify had been cited for not having a registration number on their invoices. 

Organic processors believe that the requirement is outdated because a parallel requirement to record registration numbers on all sale documents was removed from the Food and Agriculture Code when organic provisions regulating organic farmers and ranchers were updated in 2016 through the passage of CCOF-sponsored AB 1826. 

CCOF policy staff reached out to legislative staff and were able to get the amended language inserted into the Health Care Omnibus bill. Many CCOF-certified processor/handler operations submitted letters of support to legislators as the bill made its way through the lawmaking process.

Now the Health and Safety Code is more consistent with the Food and Agriculture Code.

Jeremy Johnson, legal & regulatory affairs manager at Traditional Medicinals and chair of CCOF’s Processor/Handler Chapter, said, “The requirement to include the California registration number, while well-meaning at the time of adoption, had become antiquated and not relevant for organic integrity. This legislation removes the antiquated requirement and brings more uniformity to the organic system for California producers and processors.”  

CCOF plans to work with the CCOF Processor/Handler Chapter in 2021 to review the Health and Safety Code portions of the state organic regulations for additional areas that need to be updated. 

Said Johnson, “I applaud CCOF in its efforts to help bring this to the attention of legislators and help bring about this positive change for California organic processors. I look forward to CCOF’s continued advocacy for the organic processor community here in California.”