Organic Standards and Regulations
All agricultural products sold or labeled as organic in the United States, or as “USDA organic” anywhere in the world, must be produced in compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA). OFPA authorizes the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to set and enforce USDA organic standards worldwide. Organic producers may only use allowed inputs and require producers to maintain and improve soil health, protect natural resources, and foster biodiversity.
National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is a Federal Advisory Committee that makes recommendations to NOP on materials and standards. Appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for 5 year terms, NOSB is made up of 15 volunteers who represent the entire organic sector, including growers, processors, retailers, and consumers.
To inform its recommendations to NOP, NOSB meets biannually to review materials and standards issues through a democratic, transparent process. It provides public notice and comment opportunity on all agenda items. Members of the public are invited to submit written comment as well as oral comment via webinar or in person at the meetings.
Specifically, NOSB reviews all substances on the National List of Allowed & Prohibited Substances every five years to determine their status in organic production and recommends their allowance or removal. It also reviews various standards issues at its biannual meetings such as oversight of organic imports, improving organic seed requirements, and enforcing the prohibition of GMOs in organic production.
To view NOSB’s current agenda and materials up for review at its next meeting, visit the NOSB meetings page.
CCOF at Work
CCOF advocates with our members for strong, clear, enforceable organic standards. For materials reviewed by NOSB, CCOF submits information about how our members use the material. If necessary, CCOF will take a position whether the material should remain allowed in organic production. CCOF also takes position on standards.
A key part of CCOF’s advocacy work is helping producers and stakeholders submit their own public comments. CCOF notifies members when materials important to their operation are up for review and whether NOSB is considering standards that may impact their operations. For up to date comment opportunities and standards development, sign up for action alerts and the CCOF newsletter.
CCOF’s recent comments to NOSB:
Compliance, Accreditation, and Certification Subcommittee: “Oversight improvements to deter fraud” – discussion document
Crops Subcommittee: “Strengthening the organic seed guidance April 2019” – proposal
Crops Subcommittee: “Paper (plant pots and other crop production aids) – petitioned” – discussion document
Handling Subcommittee: “Pullulan – petitioned” – proposal
Livestock Subcommittee: “Use of excluded method vaccines in organic livestock production” – discussion document
Materials Subcommittee: “Excluded methods determinations April 2019” – proposal
Materials Subcommittee: “Genetic integrity transparency of seed grown on organic land” – discussion document
Materials Subcommittee: “Marine materials in organic crop production” – discussion document
Materials Subcommittee: “Assessing cleaning and sanitation materials used in organic crop, livestock, and handling” – discussion document
Compliance, Accreditation and Certification Subcommittee: Developing Criteria for Risk-based Accreditation Oversight and Oversight of Inspector and Certification Reviewer Personnel Proposals
Crops Subcommittee: Paper Pots – petitioned Discussion Document
Crops Subcommittee: Strengthening the Organic Seed Guidance October 2018 Proposal
Handling Subcommittee: Pullulan – petitioned Discussion Document
Materials Subcommittee: Excluded Methods Determinations October 2018 Proposal
Materials Subcommittee: Genetic Integrity of Seed Grown on Organic Land Proposal
Materials Subcommittee: Marine Materials in Organic Crop Production Discussion Document
Compliance, Accreditation and Certification Subcommittee: Eliminating the Incentive to Convert Native Ecosystems Proposal
Compliance, Accreditation and Certification Subcommittee: Import Oversight Discussion Document
Compliance, Accreditation and Certification Subcommittee: Inspector Qualifications Proposal
Handling Subcommittee: Magnesium Chloride Reclassification Proposal
Livestock Subcommittee: Clarifying “Emergency” for Use of Synthetic Parasiticides in Organic Livestock Production Proposal
Materials Subcommittee: Protecting the Genetic Integrity of Seed Grown on Organic Land Discussion Document