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Program Manual Updates

by Laura Mathias |

CCOF has recently revised important sections of the CCOF Certification Program Manual. These changes include the following:

  • Updated the inspection requirements for operations inspected under the European Union regulations, including a reference to the International Standardized Profile (ISP) manual on this point, and clarification in that manual of the requirements.
  • Added the fee for expedited review of annual inspections.
  • Clarified the process for CCOF’s acknowledgement of complaints.
  • Clarified the process for CCOF’s receipt of appeals under applicable CCOF Certification Programs. GLOBALG.A.P. was added as an example of an applicable program.
  • Clarified the definition of impartiality to include both direct and/or indirect conflict of impartiality, including examples of indirect conflicts of interest.
  • Updated the organic certification fee schedule chart to clarify the handler/processor minimum fee of $650.
  • Clarified the possibility of additional fees charged to new applicants if they wish to have more than 100 products listed on their CCOF Client Profile. The fee covers the cost of the data entry.
  • Clarified that applicants located outside of the United States are subject to a minimum fee of $650 per year (note, this is a reduction in this fee).

CCOF has also revised important sections of the CCOF USDA NOP Standards Manual to reflect the changes made to the NOP standards. These are summarized here:

  • Biodegradable biobased mulch film will be allowed in organic crop production.
  • Expired listings for nonorganic hops (Humulus lupulus) and unmodified rice starch will be removed from the National List. CCOF has been enforcing this change regarding nonorganic hops and rice starch since the annotation for each was first updated.

Biodegradable Mulch Standards Finalized

On September 30, 2014 the USDA published a final rule to amend the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (the National List). The ruling, based on the recommendations
from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), allows the addition of one substance to the National List, and removes two expired substances. The ruling became effective October 30, 2014, and resulted in the following:

  • Biodegradable biobased mulch film is allowed in organic crop production.
  • Expired listings for nonorganic hops (Humulus lupulus) and unmodified rice starch have been removed from the National List.

The rule amended the NOP organic regulations section §205.2
Terms to define the additional substance as:

  • Biodegradable biobased mulch film. A synthetic mulch film that meets the following criteria:

1. Meets the compostability specifications of one of the following standards: ASTM D6400, ASTM D6868, EN 13432, EN 14995, or ISO 17088 (all incorporated by reference; see §205.3);

2. Demonstrates at least 90% biodegradation absolute or relative to microcrystalline cellulose in less than two years, in soil, according to one of the following test methods: ISO 17556 or ASTM D5988 (both incorporated by reference; see §205.3); and

3. Must be biobased with content determined using ASTM D6866 (incorporated by reference; see §205.3).

Biodegradable biobased mulch film has been included in the National List section §205.601 (Synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop production) as paragraph (b)(2)(iii):

“Biodegradable biobased mulch film as defined in 205.2 must be produced without organisms or feedstock derived from excluded methods.”

CCOF is not aware of biodegradable mulches that currently meet this standard, however, we expect them to be developed in accordance with the rule in 2015. CCOF will likely require that new mulches seek OMRI listing rather than reviewing these internally. After discussion at the National Organic Standards Board and a subsequent proposed rule, we are interested in whether these materials may present a positive contribution to sustainability.