Feb 20 2024

New NOP Requirements


This regulation amends the organic regulations of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to strengthen supervision and compliance in the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products. These amendments protect the integrity of the organic supply chain and build trust among consumers and the industry regarding the USDA organic label by strengthening organic control systems, improving traceability from farm to market, and ensuring strong compliance with USDA organic regulations.


The objectives of this new regulation include: Applicability of regulations and organic certification exemptions; National Organic Program Import Certificates; recordkeeping and product traceability; qualifications and training of certifying agent personnel; standardized organic operation certificates; unannounced inspections at certified operation locations; certification activity oversight; foreign conformity assessment systems; certification of producer group operations; non-retail packaging labeling; annual update requirements for certified operations; compliance and appeals processes; and calculation of organic content for products with multiple ingredients.


NOP urges all businesses involved in organic products to obtain certification. It benefits the organic sector to have as many certified companies as possible throughout the supply chain. As a program, we need to protect the integrity of the entire supply chain, which is facilitated by having a certifier overseeing each company along that chain. Having everyone certified helps us monitor the sector from farm to market. Who needs to be certified? Anyone who produces or handles organic products. But what does "handle" mean? 205.2 “Handle”: Sell, process, or package agricultural products, including, among others, negotiating, facilitating sales or exchanges on behalf of a seller or oneself, importing into the United States, exporting for sale in the United States, combining, adding, selecting, conditioning, treating, packaging, containing, repackaging, labeling, storing, receiving, or loading.


205.101 (a) Certification Exemptions: A production or handling operation that sells agricultural products as 'organic', but whose gross agricultural income from organic sales totals $5,000 or less per year. "This exempts very small farms and businesses from certification. There is no change in policy." 205.101 (b) CERTIFICATION EXEMPTIONS, continued. A retail establishment that does not process organically produced agricultural products. "This exempts most retailers (such as supermarkets) that sell organic products. There is no change in policy." 205.101 (d) CERTIFICATION EXEMPTIONS, A handling operation that only handles agricultural products containing less than 70 percent organic ingredients. 205.101 (e) Certification Exemptions: An operation that only receives [or] stores organic products... This excludes warehouses and storage operations that only store [which are] enclosed in sealed packages or containers, with evidence of handling... [and] remain in the same... packages... This excludes warehouses and storage operations that only store packaged organic products. This includes both retail and non-retail packaging. Operations storing bulk or unpackaged products must be certified. 205.101 (f) Certification Exemptions: An operation that only purchases, sells...[or] products... labeled for retail sale which are] enclosed in sealed packages or containers. "Wholesalers selling bulk products or non-packaged products for retail sale must be certified. 205.101 (g) Certification Exemptions: A customs broker (as defined in the United States Code of Federal Regulations, Title 19, Section 111.1) that only conducts customs activities... This excludes CBP-licensed customs brokers. These operations submit import documentation but do not touch or handle products. 205.101 (h) Certification Exemptions: An operation that solely engages in arranging the shipping, storage, transportation, or handling of organic agricultural products. This exempts logistics intermediaries, i.e., companies that connect operations with carriers and warehouses for a fee. What about transportation? Companies exclusively transporting organic products do not require organic certification. Transportation is not included in the definition of handling. However, certified operations are required to use audit and traceability records to verify that non-certified carriers do not compromise integrity.



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