About the USDA Organic Standards

On October 21, 2002, new regulations went into effect that govern the labeling of foods produced using organic agriculture. Only products with either 100% or 95-100% organic ingredients can use the USDA organic symbol.

How were the National Organic Standards created?

Passage of the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in 1990 (Title XXI, 1990 Farm Bill) created the U. S. National Organic Standards. The National Organic Program (NOP) of the Agricultural Marketing Service, United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is authorized to enforce OFPA.

What is role of the National Organic Program?

The NOP has the responsibility of implementing the organic standards now that there is a final rule. The NOP's role is to accredit state agencies and private organizations that will certify organic producers and handlers, and to oversee enforcement of the standards.

Who developed the National Organic Standards?

The Organic Foods Production Act mandated the formation of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to advise the Secretary of Agriculture in setting the standards for the National Organic Program. The NOSB consists of four farmers, two handlers/processors, one retailer, one scientist, three consumer/public-interest advocates, three environmentalists, and a certifying agent. The USDA appoints NOSB members.

The NOSB based its recommendations on industry consensus. The board asked for, and received, an unprecedented amount of public input from farmers, businesses, and consumers during every step of its decision-making process.

At Organic Valley, we believe that preservation of this process is essential to the health of the industry. We are working to protect the standards, even today, as they are being challenged.

What do the national organic regulations include?

The regulations reflect NOSB recommendations regarding which substances used in production and processing are allowed or prohibited. They prohibit the use of irradiation, sewage sludge, or genetically modified organisms in organic production. The regulations also prohibit antibiotics and hormone use in organic meat and poultry, and require 100% organic feed for organic livestock.

What is the role of the National Organic Standards Board in this process?

The NOSB serves as an advisory board to the USDA. NOSB recommendations regarding substances that are allowed or prohibited are part of the final rule.

What do national standards mean for consumers?

All agricultural products labeled "organic" must be in compliance with U. S. organic law. The word "organic" on U. S. products means that the ingredients and production methods have been verified by an accredited certification agency as meeting or exceeding USDA standards for organic production. In short, consumers have the assurance that products labeled "organic" have been produced in compliance with the standards set forth by USDA.

For consumers who want to minimize personal exposure to toxins and support humane and sustainable agricultural practices, the organic labeling laws are extremely important. All of Organic Valley's dairy, juice, eggs, meat, soy and produce meet the requirements to carry the new USDA Organic seal.

Organic Valley has always been a leader in promoting and implementing the best and most sustainable organic practices. It's a natural part of our mission to protect the environment, organic family farming, and rural communities. In support of that mission, our CEO and founding farmer George Siemon played a key role in developing and advancing the national organic standards program.

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