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USDA Moves on Organic Program, Finalizes Rule

Jan 18, 2017

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) over the past few days has released several changes to various National Organic Program (NOP) regulations, including opening a public comment period proposing a new industry-funded research and promotion program for organic foods and issuing a final rule regarding organic livestock and poultry raising and handling practices.

Organic Checkoff Program

AMS has opened a public comment period this week for a new industry-funded research and promotion program called the Organic Research, Promotion and Information Order. This program would cover all certified organic products, including dairy foods, and establish a framework to pool resources to develop new organic markets, strengthen existing markets and conduct important research and promotion activities.

The new program would join 22 other congressionally authorized research and promotion boards, known as checkoff programs, which are industry-funded to promote agricultural commodities.

A 17-member board would be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to administer the program and would be responsible for developing, financing and coordinating activities to support research to benefit the organic industry, to raise consumer awareness of certified organic products in the marketplace and to improve access to information and data across the organic sector.

AMS has provided a 60-day comment period which closes on March 20, 2017.

Organic Livestock and Poultry Final Rule

AMS also announced a final rule today that revises and adds new animal raising and handling requirements for organic livestock, including dairy cows, and poultry. The rule, “Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices,” will:

  • Clarify organic livestock and poultry housing, transportation and slaughter conditions and practices;
  • Specify allowed and prohibited animal healthcare practices in organic livestock and poultry production; and
  • Establish minimum indoor and outdoor space requirements for organic poultry.

The final rule will publish in the Jan. 19 Federal Register.

For more information, contact Emily Lyons, IDFA director of regulatory affairs and counsel, at

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