Fall 2020 Regulatory Update

Organic Crops

Renewal of 2020 Sunset Reviews

USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) renewed the listings of several materials on the National List in accordance with the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) 2020 Sunset Review recommendations (reviewed by NOSB in 2018): Ethanol (disinfectant), Isopropanol (disinfectant), Sodium carbonate peroxyhydrate (algicide); Newspaper or other recycled paper (mulch and compost feedstocks), Plastic mulch and covers, Aqueous potassium silicate (insecticide), Elemental sulfur (insecticide), Lime sulfur (insecticide and disease control), Aqueous potassium silicate (disease control), Hydrated lime (disease control), Elemental Sulfur (disease control and plant/soil amendment), Liquid fish products (plant/soil amendment), Sulfurous acid (plant/soil amendment), Ethylene gas (pineapple flower regulation), Microcrystalline cheesewax (log mushroom production), and prohibition on potassium chloride.

Organic Livestock

USDA requests comments on Economic Analysis Report

The Organic Trade Association continues active litigation against USDA regarding the withdrawal of the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) Rule. In January 2020, instead of proceeding to judgment, USDA filed a motion for voluntary remand to re-evaluate its own economic analysis of the OLPP Rule, thereby conceding that the trade association was correct in our challenges that the cost benefit analysis contained erroneous assumptions and additional errors. The Court granted the remand only for 180 days for USDA to correct its errors in the economic analysis.

On April 23, USDA published its Economic Analysis Report for 30 days of public comment. The vast majority (98%) of comments filed support reinstatement of the OLPP rule, and agree that the benefits of strong animal welfare standards, consumer trust, and a level playing field for livestock operations far outweigh the costs. The Organic Trade Association’s substantive comments presented a strong data-driven case to prove USDA economic analysis remains flawed, and identified a pattern of erroneous manipulation of economic variables that intentionally understated the benefits of the OLPP Rule and overstated the costs.

USDA misses congressional deadline for final rule

Congress’s yearly appropriations legislation included language that requires USDA to issue a final rule on Origin of Livestock (OOL) within 180 days (by June 17, 2020). However, the congressionally set deadline came and went without USDA carrying out final rulemaking on this critical issues to clarify the requirements for transition of dairy animals (cows, goats, and sheep) into organic milk production. The Organic Trade Association continues to advocate for rulemaking to clarify and narrow allowance to transition dairy animals into organic milk production as a one-time event. We have urged USDA to immediately implement the final rule.

Proposed allowance of oxalic acid for honeybee production

NOP published a proposed rule on June 8 that would add oxalic acid to the National List as a synthetic substance allowed for use as a pesticide in organic apiculture (honeybee) production. The proposed rule would implement a recommendation from NOSB in response to a petition to allow oxalic acid for use as a treatment to control varroa mites, an invasive pest, in organic beehives.

Renewal of 2020 Sunset Reviews

NOP renewed the listings of several material on the National List in accordance with NOSB 2020 Sunset Review recommendations (reviewed by NOSB in 2018): Ethanol (disinfectant), Isopropanol (disinfectant), Aspirin, Biologics (vaccines), Electrolytes, Glycerin (teat dip); Phosphoric acid (equipment cleaner), Hydrated lime (external pest control), and Mineral oil (topical, lubricant).

Organic Processors and Handlers

Proposed allowance of pullulan for dietary supplements

NOP published a proposed rule on June 8 that would add pullulan to the National List for use in tablets and capsules for dietary supplements labeled as labeled as "made with (organic ingredients or food group(s).” The proposed rule carries forward a unanimous recommendation by NOSB in April 2019. The Organic Trade Association was the original petitioner of this substance and has played a pivotal role in protecting the continued production and availability of NOP certified encapsulated dietary supplements. A USDA policy change required pullulan to be specifically listed on the National List, which prompted the trade association to submit the petition on behalf of the association’s National List Innovation Working Group.

Organic pullulan is currently not commercially available in the U.S., and there are no other NOP-compliant vegetarian options for manufacturing tablets or capsules. Adding pullulan to the National List for restricted use in “made with” products makes possible the production of NOP-certified encapsulated vegetarian supplements.  The Organic Trade Association continues to support the commercial development of certified organic pullulan for use in products using the USDA Organic seal.

Proposed allowance of collagen gel casings for sausages

NOP published a proposed rule on June 8 to add collagen gen casings to the National List for use as a non-organic agricultural ingredient in co-extrusion organic sausage production when organic forms are commercially unavailable. The proposed rule carries forward a recommendation by NOSB in response to a petition by Devro Inc. to allow non-organic collagen gel casings only when organic forms are not commercially available.

Renewal of 2020 Sunset Reviews

NOP renewed the listings of several material on the National List in accordance with NOSB 2020 Sunset Review recommendations (reviewed by NOSB in 2018): Calcium carbonate, Flavors, Gellan gum, Oxygen, Potassium chloride, Alginates, Calcium hydroxide, Ethylene, Glycerides, Magnesium stearate, Phosphoric acid, Potassium carbonate, Sulfur dioxide, Xanthan gum, Fructooligosaccharides, Gums, Lecithin, and Tragacanth gum.

Fiber and Textiles

GOTS Version 6.0

The Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) is periodically revised every three years to keep pace with consumer expectations and reflect new information to maintain strong environmental and social standards for organic textile production. On March 19, GOTS published the new version —GOTS Version 6.0—that reflects outcomes of the latest revision process. Among the updates, GOTS 6.0 clarified and significantly expanded the social standards to ensure that forced labor is prohibited, the right to collective bargaining is respected, and work environments are free from harassment and violence

NOSB is voting this fall on whether certain input materials should continue to be allowed for use in organic production and processing. NOSB could prohibit these substance if new information shows they are not essential. If you use any of these inputs, it is critical that you weigh in!

TAKE ACTION: Fill out OTA’s Sunset Surveys at OTA.COM/SUNSET. We collect feedback from certified organic farms and processors and deliver this information in a summarized anonymous format to NOSB. Our survey results are proven to influence NOSB’s decision on whether inputs are essential to the organic industry. Do this ASAP!  Comments are due to NOSB by October 2.

ENGAGE IN THE SUNSET PROCESS: Weigh in on inputs that are critical to your business

CROP PRODUCERS – Do you use KELP FERTILIZER on your organic farm?

Kelp (Seaweed) fertilizers are widely and commonly used as foliar fertilizers and soil conditioner in organic fruit and vegetable production. To manufacture fertilizers, a small amount of synthetic extractant is used to release the naturally occurring nutrients in the seaweed. Without extraction, the beneficial compounds of the seaweed are not nearly as available or effective for providing benefits to crops. The organic regulations have allowed synthetic extractants (only potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide are permitted) since the regulations were originally established in 2000. Hundreds of hundreds of organic-approved brand name fertilizer products are made with seaweed extracts.

Organic farmers who rely on kelp fertilizers as part of their nutrient management and soil fertility plan need to weigh in to the NOSB review process. Seaweed extracts are at risk of becoming prohibited if NOSB does not receive information that these fertilizers are essential to production.

PROCESSORS AND HANDLERSDo you use any of these ingredients or processing aids in organic products? NOSB wants to hear from you about whether these are essential for processing organic foods or if natural/organic alternatives are available

  • Kaolin (anticaking agent)
  • Ammonium carbonate (leavening agent)
  • Carnauba wax (fruit wax)
  • Natural Colors
  • Inulin-oligofructose enriched (dietary fiber)
  • Kelp (thickener/dietary supplement)
  • Cornstarch (thickener)
  • Sweet Potato Starch (texturizer for bean threads)
  • Turkish bay leaves (flavor development)
  • Whey protein concentrate (nutritional enrichment)

For more information about NOSB and a full list if items to be discussed and voted on at the fall meeting, go to OTA.COM/NOSB. //

This regulatory update was prepared by Johanna Mirenda, Farm Policy Director for the Organic Trade Association.