February 9, 1998 Federal Register
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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
Agricultural Marketing Service
7 CFR Part 205
National Organic Program; Extension of Comment Period on Proposed Rule
AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.
ACTION: Extension of comment period on the National Organic Program proposed
SUMMARY: The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is extending the public
comment period on the proposed rule to establish a National Organic Program
(NOP) from March 16, 1998 to April 30, 1998. This proposed rule was
published in the Federal Register on December 16, 1997.
DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before April 30, 1998.
ADDRESSES: Interested persons are invited to submit written comments on this
proposal to: Eileen S. Stommes, Deputy Administrator, USDA-AMS-TM-NOP, Room
4007 South Building, Ag Stop 0275, P.O. Box 96456, Washington, D.C.
20090-6456. Comments also may be sent by fax to (202) 690-4632.
Additionally, comments may be sent via the Internet through NOP's homepage
at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION for
further details on submitting comments.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Michael I. Hankin, Senior Agricultural
Marketing Specialist, USDA-AMS-TM-NOP, Room 2510 South Building, P.O. Box
96456, Washington, D.C. 20090-6456; Telephone: (202) 720-3252; Fax: (202)
A proposed rule to establish a NOP was published in the Federal Register
(62 FR 65849) on December 16, 1997. The program is proposed under the
Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, as amended (7 U.S.C. 6501 et. seq.),
which requires the establishment of national standards governing the
marketing of certain agricultural products as organically produced to
facilitate commerce in fresh and processed food that is organically produced
and to assure consumers that such products meet consistent standards. This
program would establish national standards for the organic production and
handling of agricultural products, which would include a National List of
synthetic substances approved for use in the production and handling of
organically produced products. It also would establish an accreditation
program for State officials and private persons who want to be accredited to
certify farm, wild crop harvesting, and handling operations that comply with
the program's requirements, and a certification program for farm, wild crop
harvesting, and handling operations that want to be certified as meeting the
program's requirements. The program additionally would include labeling
requirements for organic products and products containing organic
ingredients, and enforcement provisions. Further, the proposed rule provides
for the approval of State organic programs and the importation into the
United States of organic agricultural products from foreign programs
determined to have requirements at least equivalent to those of the NOP.
Submission of Comments
Comments may be submitted, electronically, in writing or by fax.
Written comments submitted by regular mail and faxed comments should be
identified with the National Organic Program Proposed Rule Docket Number:
TMD-94-00-2. Multiple page comments submitted by regular mail should not be
stapled or clipped to facilitate the timely scanning and posting of these
comments to NOP homepage. Persons submitting written or faxed comments are
requested to identify the topic and section number, if applicable, to which
the comment refers: for example, for a comment regarding feed for organic
livestock, reference Livestock and section 205.13. Topics should be selected
from the following list: General, Proposed Effective Date, Regulatory Impact
Assessment, Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, Paperwork Reduction Act,
Definitions, Applicability (section 205.3), Crops, Livestock, Handling,
National List, Labeling, Certification, Accreditation, State Programs, Fees,
Compliance, Appeals, and Equivalency.
It is our intention to have all comments, whether mailed, faxed or
submitted via the Internet, available for viewing the NOP homepage at
http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop in a timely manner. Comments submitted in
response to this proposal will be available for viewing at USDA-AMS,
Transportation and Marketing, Room 2945-South Building, 14th and
Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C., from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and
from 2:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday (except official Federal
holidays). Persons wanting to visit Department of Agriculture, South
Building to view comments received in response to this proposal are
requested to make an appointment in advance by calling Martha Bearer at
Reasons for Granting an Extension
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), an advisory board to the
Secretary regarding the program, has requested an extension of the comment
period. NOSB requested an extension to accommodate the timing of the next
NOSB meeting, which NOSB intends to conduct during the week of March 16-20,
1998. The schedules of the individual members of NOSB prevented holding NOSB
meeting prior to March 15. At the meeting, details of which will be
announced shortly in the Federal Register, NOSB intends to review Committee
reports and prepare NOSB comments to the proposed rule for submission to USDA.
Others have also requested an extension of the comment period. These
individuals and organizations include: State government officials,
manufacturers, and a trade organization representing the organic industry.
Examples of reasons given for requesting an extension of the comment period
include the length and complexity of the proposed rule, and the time
required for commenters to arrange and conduct listening sessions to obtain
input from constituents who will be affected by the finial regulations.
After careful consideration of the requests submitted to the Agency, AMS
has decided to grant an extension of the
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comment period for an additional 45 days, or until April 30, 1998. This
extension of the comment period will provide interested persons a total of
135 days to review the proposed rule and submit comments. AMS believes that
this 45 day extension will provide a sufficient period of time for all
commenters so that a further extension would be unnecessary.
Accordingly, AMS is extending the comment period on the NOP proposed
rule until April 30, 1998.
Authority: 7 U.S.C. 6501-6522.
Dated: February 5, 1998.
Eileen S. Stommes,
Deputy Administrator, Transportation and Marketing.
[FR Doc. 98-3285 Filed 2-5-98; 11:09 am]
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