- § 6501. Purposes
- § 6502. Definitions
- § 6503. National organic production program
- § 6504. National standards for organic production
- § 6505. Compliance requirements
- § 6506. General requirements
- § 6507. State organic certification program
- § 6508. Prohibited crop production practices and materials
- § 6509. Animal production practices and materials
- § 6510. Handling
- § 6511. Additional guidelines
- § 6512. Other production and handling practices
- § 6513. Organic plan
- § 6514. Accreditation program
- § 6515. Requirements of certifying agents
- § 6516. Peer review of certifying agents
- § 6517. National List
- § 6518. National Organic Standards Board
- § 6519. Recordkeeping, investigations, and enforcement
- § 6520. Administrative appeal
- § 6521. Administration
- § 6521a. Organic agricultural product imports interagency working group
- § 6522. Funding
- § 6523. National organic certification cost-share program
- § 6524. Organically produced food
The term “agricultural product” means any agricultural commodity or product, whether raw or processed, including any commodity or product derived from livestock that is marketed in the United States for human or livestock consumption.
The term “botanical pesticides” means natural pesticides derived from plants.
The term “certifying agent” means the chief executive officer of a State or, in the case of a State that provides for the Statewide election of an official to be responsible solely for the administration of the agricultural operations of the State, such official, and any person (including private entities) who is accredited by the Secretary as a certifying agent for the purpose of certifying a farm or handling operation as a certified organic farm or handling operation in accordance with this chapter.
The term “certified organic farm” means a farm, or portion of a farm, or site where agricultural products or livestock are produced, that is certified by the certifying agent under this chapter as utilizing a system of organic farming as described by this chapter.
The term “certified organic handling operation” means any operation, or portion of any handling operation, that is certified by the certifying agent under this chapter as utilizing a system of organic handling as described under this chapter.
The term “crop year” means the normal growing season for a crop as determined by the Secretary.
The term “governing State official” means the chief executive official of a State or, in the case of a State that provides for the Statewide election of an official to be responsible solely for the administration of the agricultural operations of the State, such official, who administers an organic certification program under this chapter.
The term “handle” means to sell, process or package agricultural products.
The term “handler” means any person engaged in the business of handling agricultural products, except such term shall not include final retailers of agricultural products that do not process agricultural products.
The term “livestock” means any cattle, sheep, goats, swine, poultry, equine animals used for food or in the production of food, fish used for food, wild or domesticated game, or other nonplant life.
The term “National List” means a list of approved and prohibited substances as provided for in section 6517 of this title.
The term “organic plan” means a plan of management of an organic farming or handling operation that has been agreed to by the producer or handler and the certifying agent and that includes written plans concerning all aspects of agricultural production or handling described in this chapter including crop rotation and other practices as required under this chapter.
The term “organically produced” means an agricultural product that is produced and handled in accordance with this chapter.
The term “person” means an individual, group of individuals, corporation, association, organization, cooperative, or other entity.
The term “pesticide” means any substance which alone, in chemical combination, or in any formulation with one or more substances, is defined as a pesticide in the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C. 136 et seq.).
The term “processing” means cooking, baking, heating, drying, mixing, grinding, churning, separating, extracting, cutting, fermenting, eviscerating, preserving, dehydrating, freezing, or otherwise manufacturing, and includes the packaging, canning, jarring, or otherwise enclosing food in a container.
The term “producer” means a person who engages in the business of growing or producing food or feed.
The term “Secretary” means the Secretary of Agriculture.
The term “State organic certification program” means a program that meets the requirements of section 6506 of this title, is approved by the Secretary, and that is designed to ensure that a product that is sold or labeled as “organically produced” under this chapter is produced and handled using organic methods.
The term “synthetic” means a substance that is formulated or manufactured by a chemical process or by a process that chemically changes a substance extracted from naturally occurring plant, animal, or mineral sources, except that such term shall not apply to substances created by naturally occurring biological processes.
The Secretary shall establish an organic certification program for producers and handlers of agricultural products that have been produced using organic methods as provided for in this chapter.
In establishing the program under subsection (a), the Secretary shall permit each State to implement a State organic certification program for producers and handlers of agricultural products that have been produced using organic methods as provided for in this chapter.
In developing the program under subsection (a), and the National List under section 6517 of this title, the Secretary shall consult with the National Organic Standards Board established under section 6518 of this title.
The Secretary shall implement the program established under subsection (a) through certifying agents. Such certifying agents may certify a farm or handling operation that meets the requirements of this chapter and the requirements of the organic certification program of the State (if applicable) as an organically certified farm or handling operation.
A label affixed, or other market information provided, in accordance with paragraph (1) may indicate that the agricultural product meets Department of Agriculture standards for organic production and may incorporate the Department of Agriculture seal.
Imported agricultural products may be sold or labeled as organically produced if the Secretary determines that such products have been produced and handled under an organic certification program that provides safeguards and guidelines governing the production and handling of such products that are at least equivalent to the requirements of this chapter.
Subsection (a)(1) shall not apply to persons who sell no more than $5,000 annually in value of agricultural products.
Notwithstanding the requirement of subsection (a)(1)(A) requiring products be produced only on certified organic farms, the Secretary shall allow, through regulations promulgated after public notice and opportunity for comment, wild seafood to be certified or labeled as organic.
A State organic certification program approved under this chapter may contain additional guidelines governing the production or handling of products sold or labeled as organically produced in such State as required in section 6507 of this title.
Fees collected under subsection (a)(10) (including late payment penalties and interest earned from investment of the fees) shall be credited to the account that incurs the cost of the services provided under this chapter.
The collected fees shall be available to the Secretary, without further appropriation or fiscal-year limitation, to pay the expenses of the Secretary incurred in providing accreditation services under this chapter.
The governing State official may prepare and submit a plan for the establishment of a State organic certification program to the Secretary for approval. A State organic certification program must meet the requirements of this chapter to be approved by the Secretary.
A State organic certification program established under subsection (a) may contain more restrictive requirements governing the organic certification of farms and handling operations and the production and handling of agricultural products that are to be sold or labeled as organically produced under this chapter than are contained in the program established by the Secretary.
The Secretary shall review State organic certification programs not less than once during each 5-year period following the date of the approval of such programs.
The governing State official, prior to implementing any substantive change to programs approved under this subsection, shall submit such change to the Secretary for approval.
The Secretary shall make a determination concerning any plan, proposed change to a program, or a review of a program not later than 6 months after receipt of such plan, such proposed change, or the initiation of such review.
For a farm to be certified under this chapter, producers on such farm shall not apply materials to, or engage in practices on, seeds or seedlings that are contrary to, or inconsistent with, the applicable organic certification program.
Any livestock that is to be slaughtered and sold or labeled as organically produced shall be raised in accordance with this chapter.
Breeder stock may be purchased from any source if such stock is not in the last third of gestation.
The National Organic Standards Board shall recommend to the Secretary standards in addition to those in paragraph (1) for the care of livestock to ensure that such livestock is organically produced.
With the exception of day old poultry, all poultry from which meat or eggs will be sold or labeled as organically produced shall be raised and handled in accordance with this chapter prior to and during the period in which such meat or eggs are sold.
Except as provided in subparagraph (B), a dairy animal from which milk or milk products will be sold or labeled as organically produced shall be raised and handled in accordance with this chapter for not less than the 12-month period immediately prior to the sale of such milk and milk products.
Crops and forage from land included in the organic system plan of a dairy farm that is in the third year of organic management may be consumed by the dairy animals of the farm during the 12-month period immediately prior to the sale of organic milk and milk products.
For a farm to be certified under this chapter as an organic farm with respect to the livestock produced by such farm, producers on such farm shall keep adequate records and maintain a detailed, verifiable audit trail so that each animal (or in the case of poultry, each flock) can be traced back to such farm.
The Secretary shall hold public hearings and shall develop detailed regulations, with notice and public comment, to guide the implementation of the standards for livestock products provided under this section.
For a farm or handling operation to be organically certified under this chapter, producers on such farm or persons on such handling operation shall ensure that organically produced meat does not come in contact with nonorganically produced meat.
The Secretary, the applicable governing State official, and the certifying agent shall utilize a system of residue testing to test products sold or labeled as organically produced under this chapter to assist in the enforcement of this chapter.
The Secretary, the applicable governing State official, or the certifying agent may require preharvest tissue testing of any crop grown on soil suspected of harboring contaminants.
If the Secretary, the applicable governing State official, or the certifying agent determines that an agricultural product sold or labeled as organically produced under this chapter contains any detectable pesticide or other non-organic residue or prohibited natural substance the Secretary, the applicable governing State official, or the certifying agent shall conduct an investigation to determine if the organic certification program has been violated, and may require the producer or handler of such product to prove that any prohibited substance was not applied to such product.
If a production or handling practice is not prohibited or otherwise restricted under this chapter, such practice shall be permitted unless it is determined that such practice would be inconsistent with the applicable organic certification program.
A producer or handler seeking certification under this chapter shall submit an organic plan to the certifying agent and the State organic certification program (if applicable), and such plan shall be reviewed by the certifying agent who shall determine if such plan meets the requirements of the programs.
An organic plan shall contain provisions designed to foster soil fertility, primarily through the management of the organic content of the soil through proper tillage, crop rotation, and manuring.
An organic plan shall contain terms and conditions that regulate the application of manure to crops.
Such organic plan shall prohibit raw manure from being applied to any crop in a way that significantly contributes to water contamination by nitrates or bacteria.
An organic livestock plan shall contain provisions designed to foster the organic production of livestock consistent with the purposes of this chapter.
An organic plan may encompass both the crop production and livestock production requirements in subsections (b) and (c) if both activities are conducted by the same producer.
An organic handling plan shall contain provisions designed to ensure that agricultural products that are sold or labeled as organically produced are produced and handled in a manner that is consistent with the purposes of this chapter.
An organic plan shall not include any production or handling practices that are inconsistent with this chapter.
The Secretary shall establish and implement a program to accredit a governing State official, and any private person, that meets the requirements of this section as a certifying agent for the purpose of certifying a farm or handling operation as a certified organic farm or handling operation.
The Secretary, acting through the Deputy Administrator of the national organic program established under this chapter, has the authority, and shall grant a certifying agent the authority, to require producers and handlers to provide additional documentation or verification before granting a certification under section 6503 of this title, in the case of a compliance risk with respect to meeting the national standards for organic production established under section 6504 of this title, as determined by the Secretary or the certifying agent.
For an agricultural product being imported into the United States to be represented as organically produced, the Secretary shall require the agricultural product to be accompanied by a complete and valid national organic import certificate, which shall be available as an electronic record.
The Secretary shall establish a system to track national organic import certificates.
In establishing the system under subparagraph (A), the Secretary may integrate the system into any existing information tracking systems for imports of agricultural products.
To be accredited as a certifying agent under section 6514 of this title, a governing State official or a person shall be able to fully implement the applicable organic certification program established under this chapter.
Any certifying agent shall employ a sufficient number of inspectors to implement the applicable organic certification program established under this chapter, as determined by the Secretary.
Any certifying agent shall fully comply with the terms and conditions of the applicable organic certification program implemented under this chapter.
Except as provided in section 6506(a)(9) of this title, any certifying agent shall maintain strict confidentiality with respect to its clients under the applicable organic certification program and may not disclose to third parties (with the exception of the Secretary or the applicable governing State official) any business related information concerning such client obtained while implementing this chapter.
A certifying agent that is a private person shall nominate the individual who controls the day-to-day operation of the agent.
If the Secretary or the governing State official (if applicable) determines that a certifying agent or an entity acting as an agent of the certifying agent is not properly adhering to the provisions of this chapter, the Secretary or such governing State official may suspend such certifying agent’s accreditation.
The Secretary shall provide for a process that is otherwise consistent with this section that authorizes a suspended office to resume operations.
If the accreditation of a certifying agent is suspended under paragraph (1), the Secretary or the governing State official (if applicable) shall promptly determine whether farming or handling operations certified by such certifying agent may retain their organic certification.
Not later than 90 days after the date on which a new certifying office performing certification activities opens, an accredited certifying agent shall notify the Secretary of the opening.
In determining whether to approve an application for accreditation submitted under section 6514 of this title, the Secretary shall consider a report concerning such applicant that shall be prepared by a peer review panel established under subsection (b).
To assist the Secretary in evaluating applications under section 6514 of this title, the Secretary may establish a panel of not less than three persons who have expertise in organic farming and handling methods, to evaluate the State governing official or private person that is seeking accreditation as a certifying agent under such section. Not less than two members of such panel shall be persons who are not employees of the Department of Agriculture or of the applicable State government.
The Secretary shall establish a National List of approved and prohibited substances that shall be included in the standards for organic production and handling established under this chapter in order for such products to be sold or labeled as organically produced under this chapter.
The list established under subsection (a) shall contain an itemization, by specific use or application, of each synthetic substance permitted under subsection (c)(1) or each natural substance prohibited under subsection (c)(2).
The National List established by the Secretary shall be based upon a proposed national list or proposed amendments to the National List developed by the National Organic Standards Board.
The Secretary may not include exemptions for the use of specific synthetic substances in the National List other than those exemptions contained in the Proposed National List or Proposed Amendments to the National List.
In no instance shall the National List include any substance, the presence of which in food has been prohibited by Federal regulatory action.
Before establishing the National List or before making any amendments to the National List, the Secretary shall publish the Proposed National List or any Proposed Amendments to the National List in the Federal Register and seek public comment on such proposals. The Secretary shall include in such Notice any changes to such proposed list or amendments recommended by the Secretary.
After evaluating all comments received concerning the Proposed National List or Proposed Amendments to the National List, the Secretary shall publish the final National List in the Federal Register, along with a discussion of comments received.
The Secretary may develop emergency procedures for designating agricultural products that are commercially unavailable in organic form for placement on the National List for a period of time not to exceed 12 months.
No exemption or prohibition contained in the National List shall be valid unless the National Organic Standards Board has reviewed such exemption or prohibition as provided in this section within 5 years of such exemption or prohibition being adopted or reviewed and the Secretary has renewed such exemption or prohibition.
The Secretary shall establish a National Organic Standards Board (in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act) (hereafter referred to in this section as the “Board”) to assist in the development of standards for substances to be used in organic production and to advise the Secretary on any other aspects of the implementation of this chapter.
Not later than 180 days after
A member of the Board shall serve for a term of 5 years, except that the Secretary shall appoint the original members of the Board for staggered terms. A member cannot serve consecutive terms unless such member served an original term that was less than 5 years.
The Secretary shall convene a meeting of the Board not later than 60 days after the appointment of its members and shall convene subsequent meetings on a periodic basis.
A member of the Board shall serve without compensation. While away from their homes or regular places of business on the business of the Board, members of the Board may be allowed travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, as is authorized under section 5703 of title 5 for persons employed intermittently in the Government service.
The Board shall select a Chairperson for the Board.
A majority of the members of the Board shall constitute a quorum for the purpose of conducting business.
⅔ of the votes cast at a meeting of the Board at which a quorum is present shall be decisive of any motion.
Any vote on a motion proposing to amend the national list shall be considered to be a decisive vote that requires ⅔ of the votes cast at a meeting of the Board at which a quorum is present to prevail.
The Secretary shall authorize the Board to hire a staff director and shall detail staff of the Department of Agriculture or allow for the hiring of staff and may, subject to necessary appropriations, pay necessary expenses incurred by such Board in carrying out the provisions of this chapter, as determined appropriate by the Secretary.
The Board shall provide recommendations to the Secretary regarding the implementation of this chapter.
The Board shall develop the proposed National List or proposed amendments to the National List for submission to the Secretary in accordance with section 6517 of this title.
The Board shall convene technical advisory panels to provide scientific evaluation of the materials considered for inclusion in the National List. Such panels may include experts in agronomy, entomology, health sciences and other relevant disciplines.
The Board shall, prior to the establishment of the National List, review all botanical pesticides used in agricultural production and consider whether any such botanical pesticide should be included in the list of prohibited natural substances.
The Board shall advise the Secretary concerning the testing of organically produced agricultural products for residues caused by unavoidable residual environmental contamination.
The Board shall advise the Secretary concerning rules for exemptions from specific requirements of this chapter (except the provisions of section 6511 of this title) with respect to agricultural products produced on certified organic farms if such farms are subject to a Federal or State emergency pest or disease treatment program.
The Board shall establish procedures under which persons may petition the Board for the purpose of evaluating substances for inclusion on the National List.
Any confidential business information obtained by the Board in carrying out this section shall not be released to the public.
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, each person who sells, labels, or represents any agricultural product as having been produced or handled using organic methods shall make available to the Secretary or the applicable governing State official, on request by the Secretary or official, all records associated with the agricultural product.
A certifying agent shall maintain all records concerning the activities of the certifying agent under this chapter for a period of not less than 10 years.
A certifying agent shall provide to the Secretary and the applicable governing State official (or a representative) access to all records concerning the activities of the certifying agent under this chapter.
It shall be unlawful and a violation of this chapter for any person covered by this chapter to fail or refuse to provide accurate information (including a delay in the timely delivery of such information) required by the Secretary under this chapter.
In carrying out this chapter, all parties to an active investigation (including certifying agents, State organic certification programs, and the national organic program) shall share confidential business information with Federal Government officers and employees involved in the investigation as necessary to fully investigate and enforce potential violations of this chapter.
Any person who knowingly sells or labels a product as organic, except in accordance with this chapter, shall be subject to a civil penalty of not more than $10,000.
Any person who makes a false statement under this chapter to the Secretary, a governing State official, or a certifying agent shall be punished in accordance with section 1001 of title 18.
Except as provided in subparagraph (C), any person that carries out an activity described in subparagraph (B), after notice and an opportunity to be heard, shall not be eligible, for the 5-year period beginning on the date of the occurrence, to receive a certification under this chapter with respect to any farm or handling operation in which the person has an interest.
Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), the Secretary may modify or waive a period of ineligibility under this paragraph if the Secretary determines that the modification or waiver is in the best interests of the applicable organic certification program established under this chapter.
A certifying agent shall immediately report any violation of this chapter to the Secretary or the applicable governing State official.
A final decision of the Secretary under subsection (a) may be appealed to the United States district court for the district in which such person is located.
Not later than 540 days after
The Secretary shall provide technical, administrative, and National Institute of Food and Agriculture assistance to assist States in the implementation of an organic certification program under this chapter.
The Secretary may provide financial assistance to any State that implements an organic certification program under this chapter.
The Secretary shall have access to available data from cross-border documentation systems administered by other Federal agencies, including the Automated Commercial Environment system of U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
Not later than
The data described in paragraph (1) shall be broken down by agricultural product, quantity, value, and month.
Any data determined by the Secretary to be confidential business information shall not be provided in the report under paragraph (1).
The Secretary and the Secretary of Homeland Security shall jointly establish a working group to facilitate coordination and information sharing between the Department of Agriculture and U.S. Customs and Border Protection relating to imports of organically produced agricultural products (referred to in this section as the “working group”).
An employee or official designated to carry out the duties of the Secretary or the Secretary of Homeland Security on the working group under subparagraph (A) or (B) of paragraph (2) shall be an employee or official compensated at a rate of pay not less than the minimum annual rate of basic pay for GS–12 under section 5332 of title 5.
There are authorized to be appropriated for each fiscal year such sums as may be necessary to carry out this chapter.
The Secretary shall establish a new system or modify an existing data collection and organization system to collect and organize in a single system quantitative data on imports of each organically produced agricultural product accepted into the United States.
In carrying out paragraph (1), the Secretary shall modernize trade and transaction certificates to ensure full traceability to the port of entry without unduly hindering trade or commerce, such as through an electronic trade document exchange system.
The amounts made available under paragraph (4) are in addition to any other funds made available for the purposes described in that paragraph and shall remain available until expended.
The Secretary of Agriculture shall establish a national organic certification cost-share program to assist producers and handlers of agricultural products in obtaining certification under the national organic production program established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.).
Subject to paragraph (2), the Secretary shall pay under this section not more than 75 percent of the costs incurred by a producer or handler in obtaining certification under the national organic production program, as certified to and approved by the Secretary.
The maximum amount of a payment made to a producer or handler under this section shall be $750.
Not later than March 1 of each year, the Secretary shall submit to the Committee on Agriculture of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry of the Senate a report that describes the requests by, disbursements to, and expenditures for each State under the program during the current and previous fiscal year, including the number of producers and handlers served by the program in the previous fiscal year.
Amounts made available under paragraph (1) shall remain available until expended.
In the case of a food certified under the national organic program established under the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.), the certification shall be considered sufficient to make a claim regarding the absence of bioengineering in the food, such as “not bioengineered”, “non-GMO”, or another similar claim.