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NOP Adjusts Policy on Release of Information

In the spring 2011 issue of Certified Organic we discussed new instructions from the NOP regarding the release of noncompliance information and details on adverse actions. After ongoing review at the federal level, the NOP has revised their instructions to certifiers. CCOF disclosure information remains unchanged, even under the new instructions (see CCOF Manual One).

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NOP Gives Two Year Extension on "Certified Organic By CCOF" Placement Label Changes

In October 2012 CCOF notified clients that all package labels for organic products must state "Certified Organic by CCOF" BELOW the name and contact information for your operation. The deadline for changing labels that do not comply was January 1, 2014. This deadline has been extended to January 1, 2016.

If the statement "Certified Organic by CCOF" is anywhere else on your label, such as next to your company name, above it, near it, etc., you will need to change your labels by January 1, 2016.

NOP Improves Organic Integrity

Recently, the NOP issued final rules and instructions to certifiers that provide important improvements to certification and require certifiers to raise the bar for both unannounced inspections and testing. These efforts help ensure that organic certification is rigorous and meaningful in the marketplace while guaranteeing that all NOP certified operations and certifiers are required to meet similar requirements. CCOF has performed both unannounced inspections and residue testing for some time and is therefore pleased to see these requirements effectively instituted by NOP.

NOP Instruction Forces Changes for CCOF Operations

Updated May 14, 2014: On February 13, 2014, the National Organic Program (NOP) released Instruction Document 4009: Who Needs to be Certified, and accompanying Questions and Answers. This Instruction clarified what parts of CCOF-certified members’ OSPs and stages of production require independent certification.

NOP Organic Integrity Quarterly Newsletter

The NOP’s latest Organic Integrity Quarterly Insider includes interesting articles about rulemaking issues and activities of the National Organic Program. This edition includes information about certified and noncertified entities using the USDA seal, and the how to maintain the integrity of the seal.

NOP Strengthens Organic Standards

On August 14, 2014, the National Organic Program (NOP) published instruction 4012 “Use of Brand or Company Names Containing the Word ‘Organic’.” This instruction document is directed at certifiers and clarifies an area of potential confusion while indicating the NOP’s expectations and standards interpretations regarding product labeling.

Planting Stock Guidance from NOP

On February 28, 2013, the National Organic Program (NOP) issued Guidance Document NOP 5029, "Seeds, Annual Seedlings, and Planting Stock in Organic Crop Production." This final guidance describes the NOP’s direction to the industry and certifiers regarding how these materials may be sourced and treated, and specifying which records are necessary in order to meet the USDA National Organic Standards. In general, few substantial changes affect CCOF annual crop producers.
 

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Postharvest Handling Draft Guidance is Open for Comment

On April 25, 2014 the National Organic Program released a proposed guidance document regarding Substances Used in Postharvest Handling of Organic Products. This guidance addresses the materials that may be used in on-farm or other immediate postharvest situations. This guidance clarifies some confusion between what materials, such as diatomaceous earth or carbon dioxide, could be used in what contexts in a postharvest setting. Comments are due by June 24.

Practices, Not Paperwork Initiative

In the last six months CCOF has been in an ongoing dialogue with the National Organic Program (NOP) and USDA about issues we see in the certification and accreditation process that are overly reliant on paperwork and unnecessarily drive up costs. We are concerned that small operators may be leaving the NOP due to both the difficult paperwork and costs of organic certification.

Program Manual Updates

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

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