Chapter 1

Introduction to Organic Farminge

The Organic Foods Production Act

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) is a law that regulates the production, processing, handling, packaging, and labeling of organic agricultural products in the United States. The OFPA establishes clear, national standards for organic agriculture and aids consumers by requiring simpler, standardized labeling of organic products. It also protects consumers and legitimate organic producers by setting fines and punishments for producers and marketers that make false or misleading claims about organic agricultural products. Generally, organic products do not contain ingredients produced with the use of synthetic fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, or other chemicals. The OFPA and subsequent regulations Chapter 1: Introduction to Organic Farming 5 require that all organic producers and handlers be certified under the standards set forth under the OFPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Once organic producers and handlers have been certified, they may produce and market agricultural goods as “organic,” if the good meets all organic production and handling requirements. The Organic Foods Production Act mandated creation of a National Organic Program (NOP) and a National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The NOP develops the rules and regulations for the production, handling, labeling, and enforcement of all USDA organic products. The NOSB is the federal body responsible for writing, interpreting and enforcing the Organic Regulations, which are the National Organic Standards (NOS).

National Organic Program

The National Organic Program (NOP), part of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), has regulatory oversight responsibilities for the USDA organic standards and the accreditation of organic certifying agents.

National Organic Standards Board

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is a 15-member advisory panel, comprised of individuals from the organic community appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture. Each NOSB member is appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for a five-year term. NOSB members include: four organic farmers/growers, three environmental/resource conservationists, three consumer/public interest representatives, two organic handlers/ processors, one retailer, one scientist (toxicology, ecology, or biochemistry), and one USDA accredited certifying agent.

National Organic Standards

The NOS were developed by the USDA to implement the OFPA. The NOS are based on recommendations of the NOSB. The final rule contains the National Organic Standards, 6 Organic Crop Production complete with an extensive list of definitions and the “National List” of allowed synthetic and prohibited natural substances. It also contains labeling, certification, accreditation, enforcement, and testing requirements. Under the regulation, any agricultural product can be produced using organic methods.

National List

Sections 6504, 6510, 6517, and 6518 of the OFPA provide the Secretary with the authority to develop the National List. The contents of the National List are based upon a Proposed National List, with annotations, as recommended to the Secretary by the NOSB. The National List identifies synthetic substances that are allowed in organic production and non-synthetic substances that are prohibited in organic crop production.

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