[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 41 (Friday, March 1, 2013)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 13776-13777]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-04823]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

7 CFR Part 205

[Document Number AMS-NOP-11-0002; NOP-11-02]


National Organic Program: Notice of Policies Addressing Kelp, 
Seeds and Planting Stock, Livestock Feed, and Responding to Pesticide 
Residue Testing

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability of final guidance.

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SUMMARY: The National Organic Program (NOP) is announcing the 
availability of three final guidance documents and one instruction 
document intended for use by certifying agents and certified 
operations. The final guidance and instruction documents are entitled 
as follows: ``The Use of Kelp in Organic Livestock Feed (NOP 5027); 
Responding to Results from Pesticide Residue Testing (NOP 2613)''; 
``Seeds, Annual Seedlings, and Planting Stock in Organic Crop 
Production (NOP 5029)''; and ``Evaluating Allowed Ingredients and 
Sources of Vitamins and Minerals for Organic Livestock Feed (NOP 
5030)''. These final guidance and instruction documents are intended to 
inform the public of NOP's current thinking on these topics.

DATES: The final guidance documents announced by this notice of 
availability are effective on March 4, 2013.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Melissa Bailey, Ph.D., Director, 
Standards Division, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 
Independence Ave. SW., Room 2646-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 
20250, Email: Melissa.bailey@ams.usda.gov; Telephone: (202) 720-3252; 
Fax: (202) 205-7808.

[[Page 13777]]


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    On June 13, 2011, the National Organic Program (NOP) published in 
the Federal Register a notice of availability with request for public 
comment on four draft guidance documents (76 FR 34180). The topics 
covered in the draft documents addressed recommendations issued by the 
National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the USDA Office of 
Inspector General (OIG) in a March 2010 audit report of the NOP. The 
four documents presented policies on the use of kelp in livestock feed 
products, procedures for certifying agents in response to results from 
pesticide residue testing, requirements for procurement and use of 
seed, seedlings and planting stock, and evaluation criteria for allowed 
ingredients and sources of vitamins and minerals in livestock feed. The 
four draft guidances can be viewed on the NOP Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/NopDraftGuidance. The 60-day comment period closed on 
August 12, 2011.
    The NOP received approximately 50 individual comments on the four 
draft guidance documents. Based upon the comments received, the NOP 
revised and is publishing the three draft guidance documents as final: 
``NOP 5027--The Use of Kelp in Organic Livestock Feed; ``NOP 5029--
Seeds, Annual Seedlings, and Planting Stock in Organic Crop 
Production''; and ``NOP 5030--Evaluating Allowed Ingredients and 
Sources of Vitamins and Minerals for Organic Livestock Feed''. Each 
guidance document includes an appendix where the NOP provides a 
complete discussion of the comments received and the rationale behind 
any changes made to the guidance documents as well as any changes 
proposed, but not made to the guidance documents.
    The fourth draft guidance document, ``NOP 5028--Responding to 
Results from Pesticide Residue Testing,'' has been revised and reissued 
under the same title as an instruction document, NOP 2613. Instruction 
documents set forth or clarify existing NOP procedures and provide 
information to certifying agents about conducting business related to 
certification and enforcement. In contrast, guidance documents provide 
or explain options and alternatives to satisfy regulatory requirements, 
set forth changes in interpretation of policy, or address unusually 
complex or highly controversial issues. Upon consideration of the 
objectives of the content in the final document, the NOP has issued NOP 
2613 as an instruction document, rather than guidance, since the 
purpose is to explain to certifying agents how to respond to results 
from pesticide residue testing. Because this was issued as a draft 
guidance with request for comment, this instruction includes an 
appendix where the NOP provides a discussion of the comments received 
on the draft guidance and the rationale behind any changes made in the 
instruction as well as any changes proposed, but not made to the 
instruction.
    The three final guidance documents and one instruction document are 
now available from the NOP through ``The Program Handbook: Guidance and 
Instructions for Certifying Agents 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/NopProgramHandbook.

II. Significance of Guidance

    These final guidance documents are 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. Final guidance 
represents the NOP's current thinking on these topics. 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. 
6501-6522), 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.

III. Electronic Access

    Persons with access to Internet may obtain the final guidance at 
the NOP's Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop. Requests for hard 
copies of the guidance or instruction 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: February 26, 2013.
David R. Shipman,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-04823 Filed 2-28-13; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P