To further clarify the USDA's role in OFPA language development: The detailed
systems of certifying applicants for organic farm and organic handling
operation status were developed by and large by certified organic farmers
themselves to protect their markets through assuring the potential customer
they in fact were getting what they were paying for. A compendium of such
systems was elegantly brought together into a compromise law, OFPA, that was
well balanced with needs and foresight of involved consumer, environmental
and public interest groups. I say "compromise" not to indicate a lessening
of the existing private sector or State organic standards, but "compromise"
meaning cooperation, because everyone in the organic community came to the
table where OFPA was written and integrated their best ideas.
As I have indicated before, OFPA is far and away the finest organic standard
for farm production, handling (processing, packaging and storing) of organic
food products, for determination of synthetic and natural substances that may
be allowed in organics (the National List), for operations of organic
certification systems, for assuring imported organic products meet a nations
standards, that exist. All private sector organic farming and handling
standards and input determination procedures pale beside OFPA. If anyone
would like to contest this statement, please speak up. I appreciate being
corrected. Lastly, OFPA is I believe, the finest environmental law ever
passed in the US because of its potential impact on farmer, farm worker,
consumer health and environmental health (health of the water, air, microbe,
flora, fauna and soil).
However, to return to USDA's role:
USDA's four major contributions to the Act were:
§2107 GENERAL REQUIREMENTS.
(a) IN GENERAL. A program established under this title shall
(10) provide for the collection of reasonable fees from producers, certifying
agents and handlers who participate in such program; and
(11 ) require such other terms and conditions as may be determined by the
Secretary to be necessary.
§2108 STATE ORGANIC CERTIFICATION PROGRAM.
(a) IN GENERAL. 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 title to be approved by the Secretary.
(b) ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS.
(1 ) AUTHORITY. 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 title than are contained in the program
established by the Secretary.
(2) CONTENT. Any additional requirements established under paragraph (1 )
(A) further the purposes of this title;
(B) not be inconsistent with this title;
(C) not be discriminatory towards agricultural commodities organically
produced in other States in accordance with this title; and
(D) not become effective until approved by the Secretary.
(c) REVIEW AND OTHER DETERMINATIONS.
(1) SUBSEQUENT REVIEW. 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.
(2) CHANGES IN PROGRAM. 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.
(3) TIME FOR DETERMINATION. 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.
§2116 REQUIREMENTS OF CERTIFYING AGENTS.
(d) AGREEMENT. Any certifying agent shall enter into an agreement with the
Secretary under which such agent shall (1 ) agree to carry out the provisions
of this title; and (2) agree to such other terms and conditions as the
Secretary determines appropriate.
(e) PRIVATE CERTIFYING AGENT AGREEMENT. Any certifying agent that is a
private person shall, in additional to the agreement required in subsection
(1 ) agree to hold the Secretary harmless for any failure on the part of the
certifying agent to carry out the provisions of this title; and
(2) furnish reasonable security, in an amount determined by the Secretary,
for the purpose of protecting the rights of participants in the applicable
organic certification program established under this title.
(f) COMPLIANCE WITH PROGRAM. Any certifying agent shall fully comply with the
terms and conditions of the applicable organic certification program
implemented under this title.
§2120 VIOLATIONS OF TITLE.
(e) EFFECT OF OTHER LAWS. Nothing in this title shall alter the authority of
the Secretary under the Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 601 et seq.)
the Poultry Products Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 451 et seq.), and the Egg
Products Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 1031 et seq.) concerning meat, poultry and
egg products, nor any of the authorities of the Secretary of Health and Human
Services under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C 301 et
seq.), nor the authority of the Administrator of the Environmental Protection
Agency under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act (7 U.S.C.
136 et seq.).
It is rather amusing that the major themes expressed by Sal, Rich, Douglas
and Lawrence--that of government or private certifying agents' intrusiveness
and cost in their organic farming and handling activities--are actually
redressable through two chapters of OFPA initiated by USDA itself. Those
being the need to maintain a reasonable cost and a method to control State
and private organic programs through the Secretary having to approve such.
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