[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 23 (Friday, February 3, 2012)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 5415-5416]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-2377]


========================================================================
Proposed Rules
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of 
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these 
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in 
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 77, No. 23 / Friday, February 3, 2012 / 
Proposed Rules

[[Page 5415]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 205

[Doc. AMS-NOP-11-0073; NOP-11-14]


National Organic Program: Notice of Draft Guidance for Accredited 
Certifying Agents, Certified Operations, and Non-Certified Handlers of 
Certified Organic Products

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability with request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The National Organic Program (NOP) is announcing the 
availability of a draft guidance document intended for use by 
accredited certifying agents, certified operations and non-certified 
handlers of certified organic products. The draft guidance document is 
entitled as follows: Handling Bulk, Unpackaged Organic Products (NOP 
5031).
    This draft guidance document is intended to inform the public of 
NOP's current thinking on this topic. The NOP is seeking comments on 
this draft guidance document. A notice of availability of final 
guidance on this topic will be issued upon its final approval. Once 
finalized, this guidance document will be available from the NOP 
through ``The Program Handbook: Guidance and Instructions for 
Accredited Certifying Agents (ACAs) and Certified Operations.'' This 
Handbook provides those who own, manage, or certify organic operations 
with guidance and instructions that can assist them in complying with 
the NOP regulations. The current edition of the Program Handbook is 
available online at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop or in print upon 
request.

DATES: To ensure that NOP considers your comment on this draft guidance 
before it begins work on the final version of the guidance, submit 
written comments on the draft guidance by April 3, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Submit written requests for hard copies of this draft 
guidance document to Toni Strother, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, 
National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., 
Room 2646 So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268. See the 
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the draft 
guidance documents.
    Interested persons may comment on this draft guidance document 
using the following procedures:
    Internet: http://www.regulations.gov.
    Mail: Comments may be submitted by mail to: Toni Strother, 
Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-
NOP, 1400 Independence Ave. SW., Room 2646 So., Ag Stop 0268, 
Washington, DC 20250-0268.
    Written comments responding to this request should be identified 
with the document number AMS-NOP-11-0073; NOP-11-14. You should clearly 
indicate your position and the reasons for your position. If you are 
suggesting changes to the draft guidance document, you should include 
recommended language changes, as appropriate, along with any relevant 
supporting documentation.
    USDA intends to make available all comments, including names and 
addresses when provided, regardless of submission procedure used, on 
www.regulations.gov and at USDA, AMS, NOP, Room 2646-South building, 
1400 Independence Ave. SW., Washington, DC, from 9 a.m. to noon and 
from 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday (except official Federal 
holidays). Persons wanting to visit the USDA South building to view 
comments from the public to this notice are requested to make an 
appointment by calling (202) 720-3252.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa R. Bailey, Ph.D., Director, 
Standards Division, National Organic Program (NOP), USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 
Independence Ave. SW., Room 2646-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 
20250-0268, Telephone: (202) 720-3252, Email: 
NOP.guidance@ams.usda.gov, or visit the NOP Web site at: 
www.ams.usda.gov/nop.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

    The NOP selected the topic for the draft guidance announced through 
this notice in response to a recommendation issued by the National 
Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in October 2010. On October 28, 2010, 
the NOSB finalized a recommendation requesting that the NOP clarify the 
requirements and limitations of 7 CFR 205.101(b) of the NOP 
regulations.\1\ This section of the regulations addresses the 
conditions that a handling operation must meet in order to be excluded 
from the organic certification requirements of Part 205. The NOSB 
recommended that NOP issue guidance to clarify how these conditions 
apply to handlers of bulk, unpackaged organic products. The NOP is 
responding to this recommendation by issuing draft guidance to outline 
the types of handling operations that are or are not excluded from 
organic certification. The draft guidance proposes that brokers, 
traders or distributors of bulk, unpackaged organic commodities or 
livestock are not excluded from certification and, therefore, must be 
certified organic operations.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \1\ NOSB Recommendation: Clarifying Limitations of Sec.  
205.101(b). Issued on October 28, 2010. Accessible on the NOP Web 
site at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5087789&acct=nosb.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

II. Significance of Guidance

    This draft guidance document is being issued in accordance with the 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin on Agency Good Guidance 
Practices (GGPs) (January 25, 2007, 72 FR 3432-3440).
    The purpose of GGPs is to ensure that program guidance documents 
are developed with adequate public participation, are readily available 
to the public, and are not applied as binding requirements. The draft 
guidance, when finalized, will represent the NOP's current thinking on 
the topic. It does not create or confer any rights for, or on, any 
person and does not operate to bind the NOP or the public. Guidance 
documents are intended to provide a uniform method for operations to 
comply that can reduce the burden of developing their own methods and 
simplify audits and inspections. Alternative approaches that can 
demonstrate compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), as 
amended (7 U.S.C. 6501-

[[Page 5416]]

6522), and its implementing regulations are also acceptable. As with 
any alternative compliance approach, the NOP strongly encourages 
industry to discuss alternative approaches with the NOP before 
implementing them to avoid unnecessary or wasteful expenditures of 
resources and to ensure the proposed alternative approach complies with 
the Act and its implementing regulations.

Electronic Access

    Persons with access to Internet may obtain the draft guidance at 
either NOP's Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop or http://www.regulations.gov. Requests for hard copies of the draft guidance 
documents can be obtained by submitting a written request to the person 
listed in the ADDRESSES section of this Notice.

    Authority: 7 U.S.C. 6501-6522.

    Dated: January 30, 2012.
Robert C. Keeney,
Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2012-2377 Filed 2-2-12; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P