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In Brief: Organic Livestock + Poultry Practices Rule

  • The continued success of the organic sector demands that organic standards be robust, consistent and clear in order to stay meaningful.

  • The Organic Trade Association Board of Directors voted unanimously to file a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Agriculture over its failure to put into effect new organic livestock and poultry regulations.

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), which recommends organic policy to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP), will hold its fall public meeting October 31 through November 2 in Jacksonville, FL. The meeting will take place at the Omni Jacksonville Hotel. The primary purpose of NOSB meetings is to provide an opportunity for organic stakeholders to give input on proposed NOSB recommendations and discussion items. The meetings also allow NOSB to receive updates from USDA’s NOP on issues pertaining to organic agriculture.

A vulnerability was revealed in the organic supply chain via a complaint that the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) National Organic Program (NOP) received regarding non-organic grains and oilseeds being imported from Turkey and fraudulently sold as organic in the United States.

Update: Comment deadline has been extended to August 25. The Organic Trade Association has already filed comments, see below for details.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan. 17, 2017 announced it is seeking public comments to a proposal for a nationwide research and promotion check-off program for the organic industry. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has hailed this action as a significant step that will advance the growing organic sector and have important and long-lasting benefits for organic farmers, businesses and consumers alike.


On January 11, 2017, The Organic Trade Association (OTA) announced a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to help guide farmers transitioning into certified organic agricultural production. 


On December 5, OTA submitted comments to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on the agency’s guidance surrounding documentation to substantiate animal raising claims on packaged meat products. In its comments, OTA said it strongly believes that an organic certificate should be the only documentation required for animal raising claims verified through the organic certification process.

On December 1, 2016, OTA submitted comments to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) on a recent study that was conducted together with USDA on consumer perceptions of organic claims.

The National Organic Program (NOP) has posted the Proposals and Discussion Documents to be discussed and voted on the next National Organic Standards Board meeting (NOSB) Nov. 16-18 in St. Louis, MO. 

7.29.16: The mandatory GMO labeling bill introduced by Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Democrat Debbie Stabenow passed the Senate and the House of Representatives, and was signed by President Obama on July 29, 2016. Read OTA’s messages to our membership.

Thousands of certified organic farmers, ranchers, handlers, processors, distributors, and other businesses across the organic supply chain are voicing their support for this trailblazing program that will fund research for today’s producers, provide technical assistance for tomorrow’s farmers, and educate consumers on the value of organic food and farming.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a Federal Register notice requesting scientific data, information, and comments that would help the agency develop a risk assessment for produce grown in fields or other growing areas amended with untreated biological soil amendments of animal origin, including raw manure.

In response to consumers who have requested that it explore the use of the term ‘natural,’ FDA is asking for the public to provide information and comments on the use of this term in food labeling.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a Scientific Assessment for Arsenic in Rice. The assessment guides the general population to eat a balanced diet with a diversity of grains, and proposes a draft action level for inorganic arsenic in infant rice cereal. OTA sumbitted comments to FDA on its proposal.

In February 2016, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) released a notice stating its decision to complete a programmatic environmental impact statement (EIS) in connection with proposed revisions and amendments to our biotechnology regulations under consideration.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration published its final guidance for companies who want to voluntarily label whether foods have or have not been produced or processed with genetically modified organisms (GMOs).  Titled “Voluntary Labeling Indicating Whether Foods Have or Have Not Been Derived from Genetically Engineered Plans.” this guidance from the FDA has been 14 years in the making: The FDA released draft guidance on voluntary GMO labeling on January 18, 2001; the public comment period for that draft closed March 19, 2001.

There has been significant discussion recently around the concept of an industry-led transitional certification program administered by USDA’s Process Verified Program (PVP).  A transitional certification has the potential to support producers through the significant task of transitioning their farms to organic by providing exposure to the certification process and organic regulations, access to USDA support programs for producers, and, potentially, premiums for their “certified transitional” crops.  

OTA’s Board has approved the establishment of an OTA Fiber Council based on OTA Sector Council Operating Guidelines.  The application for the new sector council was first reviewed by the OTA Board Community Relations Committee, which gave its support. Marci Zaroff, President of Portico Brands and Founder of Under the Canopy, submitted the request along with seven other OTA member companies that have expressed interest in participating.  The aim is to create a cohesive voice across fiber categories within OTA, and to grow the organic fiber sector overall.