[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 63 (Tuesday, April 2, 2013)]
[Pages 19637-19638]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-07613]

                                                Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
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delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.


Federal Register / Vol. 78, No. 63 / Tuesday, April 2, 2013 / 

[[Page 19637]]


Agricultural Marketing Service

[Doc. No. AMS-NOP-12-0060; NOP-12-14]

National Organic Program: Notice of Draft Guidance on 
Classification of Materials and Materials for Organic Crop Production

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability of draft guidance with request for 


SUMMARY: This notice announces draft guidance for review and comment by 
accredited certifying agents, certified operations, material evaluation 
programs, and other organic industry stakeholders. The first set of 
draft guidance documents implements recommendations from the National 
Organic Standards Board (NOSB) concerning the classification of 
materials under the USDA organic regulations (7 CFR part 205). The 
Classification of Materials draft guidance, NOP 5033, details the 
procedures and decision trees for classifying materials used for 
organic crop production, livestock production, and handling. The second 
set of draft guidance documents, NOP 5034, provides clarification 
regarding materials for use in organic crop production. These documents 
include an itemization of allowed natural and synthetic materials and a 
limited appendix of materials prohibited in organic crop production.
    The guidance explains the policy of the National Organic Program 
(NOP) concerning the portions of the regulations in question, 
referenced herein. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) invites 
organic producers, handlers, certifying agents, material evaluation 
programs, consumers and other interested parties to submit comments 
about these guidance provisions. Notices of availability of final 
guidance on these topics will be issued upon final approval. Once 
finalized, final guidance documents will be available from 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 USDA organic regulations. 
The current edition of the Program Handbook is available online at 
http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop or in print upon request.

DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before June 3, 2013.

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 submit comments on these draft guidance 
documents using the following procedures:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: 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-12-0060; NOP-12-14. Clearly indicate 
the draft guidance and, if applicable, the material(s) you are 
addressing, your support for or opposition to it, and the reason for 
your position. Please include only relevant information and data to 
support your position. AMS is specifically requesting comments on the 
status of some materials as described in the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION 
    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 request to make an 
appointment by calling (202) 720-3252.

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. Telephone: (202) 720-3252; Fax: (202) 205-7808.


I. Background

    The draft guidance documents announced through this notice were 
developed in response to outstanding NOSB recommendations. These 
documents also address the identified need to develop guidance to 
address requests by certifying agents and certified operations for 
clarification on the classification of materials and for more 
definitive information on materials used in organic crop production.
    Under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522), 
the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substance section of the 
USDA organic regulations must include synthetic substances which are 
permitted for use in organic crop production, and nonsynthetic 
(natural) substances which are prohibited for use in organic crop 
    Within the guidance, NOP has used the synonymous term ``material'' 
in place of the term ``substance,'' as the term ``material'' is more 
commonly used within the organic community.
    Nonsynthetic (natural) materials are generally permitted to be used 
in organic production, but are not required to be included in the 
National List. At times, this unique construction of the National List 
has been a source of confusion or inconsistency in determining which 
input materials are allowed for organic production, since permitted 
nonsynthetic materials (e.g., feather meal, fish meal, botanical 
pesticides) are not specifically identified in the standards. The lack 
of guidance on classification has led to confusion and inconsistency in 
the industry in how to classify materials as natural or synthetic, and, 
by extension,

[[Page 19638]]

whether the material needs to be on the National List.
    The draft guidance document NOP 5033, Classification of Materials, 
provides additional guidance to the industry on how materials are 
classified as nonsynthetic, synthetic, agricultural, or 
nonagricultural. The terms ``nonsynthetic,'' ``synthetic,'' 
``agricultural,'' and ``nonagricultural'' are defined at 7 CFR 205.2 of 
the USDA organic regulations. This guidance implements a series of 
recommendations of the NOSB and provides clarification on how materials 
should be classified according to these defined terms. Draft guidance 
NOP 5033-1 includes a decision tree for classifying a material as 
synthetic or nonsynthetic. Draft guidance NOP 5033-2 includes a 
decision tree for classifying a material as agricultural or 
nonagricultural. For materials used in organic crop production, the 
classification guidance is intended to be used in conjunction with the 
draft guidance NOP 5034, Materials for Organic Crop Production, to 
assist in determining whether a material is permitted for use.
    The draft guidance document NOP 5034, Materials for Organic Crop 
Production, provides guidance to the industry on materials used in 
organic crop production. Once finalized, NOP 5034-1 is intended to 
provide a tool for organic producers to understand which input 
materials are allowed in organic crop production. The guidance includes 
substances which are specifically allowed in section 205.601 of the 
USDA organic regulations, as well as materials which are permitted, but 
are not required to be included on the National List. The appendix NOP 
5034-2 provides a list of materials that are specifically prohibited in 
organic crop production. The appendix of prohibited materials is not 
intended to be all inclusive, but is provided for guidance to the 
industry of items which have been previously reviewed by the NOSB and 
not recommended for use. The appendix of prohibited materials also 
includes materials which are specifically listed in section 205.602 the 
National List as prohibited for use in organic crop production (e.g., 
lead salts) or that are otherwise prohibited by the USDA organic 
regulations (e.g., sewage sludge). The guidance, once finalized, will 
not grant new allowances for any synthetic substance to be used in 
organic production that have not been specifically recommended by the 
NOSB and added to the National List through rulemaking for such 
    NOP is aware that there may have been some inconsistency in the 
classification of a small number of materials used in organic crop 
production. NOP is issuing this draft guidance in an effort to clarify 
the status of these materials. Comments are specifically requested on 
the classification and descriptions provided in NOP 5034-1 for the 
following materials: bagasse, biochar, corn steep liquor, fatty acids, 
glycerin, molasses, vegetable protein hydrolysate, vinasse, and xanthan 
gum. NOP is requesting comments on whether these materials are 
accurately classified according to the draft guidance on 
classification, NOP 5033-1, and whether any amendments are needed to 
the descriptions provided in NOP 5034-1, Materials for Organic Crop 

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 
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. 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 

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

    Dated: March 28, 2013.
David R. Shipman,
Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2013-07613 Filed 4-1-13; 8:45 am]