2012 22.4 WSDA Organic Program Update

Ten-Year Reaccreditation Audit Completed

As many readers likely know, organic certified operators must be inspected annually to maintain their organic certification. What is lesser know is that WSDA must undergo audits by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) to remain accredited as an organic certifier. This year marks a full decade of accreditation as an organic certifier under the USDA NOP. We recently completed our ten-year reaccreditation audit and we passed with
high marks.
The audit included a week-long review of our office and file systems, as well as on-site witness audits during which USDA auditors observed WSDA inspectors at work in the field. It was a challenging and demanding week but it’s time well spent. The audits aid us in ensuring organic integrity and delivering consistent organic certification services under the NOP. Input Materials Compliance

Deadlines Approaching

On June 6, 2012, the National Organic Program (NOP) published a final rule to address substances that were due to sunset or “expire” from the National List in 2012. Please note the following changes:

Crops Materials

Sulfur Dioxide. Effective October 21, 2012, sulfur dioxide (smoke bombs) will no longer be allowed for rodent control in organic crop production. The only synthetic input allowed as a rodenticide after October 21, 2012 is vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol). Farms that used sulfur dioxide prior to October 21, 2012, may sell, label, or represent their products as organic. Use of sulfur dioxide smoke bombs after October 20, 2012, is prohibited.

Handling Materials

Pectin. The Sunset 2012 final rule removes the listing for “pectin – low-methoxy” from the National List and revises the listing for “pectin – high-methoxy” to read “pectin – non-amidated forms only.” In effect, the final rule requires that only non-amidated, non-organic pectin be used in organic processing if organic pectin is not commercially available. The effective date for the pectin amendments is June 27, 2012.
After publication of this rule, organic handlers conveyed a need for timely product reformulation, which may be necessary for organic products to comply with the new listing for pectin. NOP has informed certified operations that the Agricultural Marketing Service will allow operations to reformulate their products until October 21, 2012.
Yeast. Effective October 21, 2012, yeast used in baked goods and other processed organic products (used as an ingredient or fermentation agent) must be organic if commercially available and intended for human consumption. Organic products already in the stream of commerce prior to October 21, 2012 (i.e., those manufactured, in storage, or on shelves), can still be sold as organic after the October 21, 2012, effective date. Organic products manufactured on or after October 21, 2012, need to comply with the new requirements.
Contact our office if you have any other questions regarding these changes to allowed input materials.

Organic Cost Share

The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program is designed to provide federal assistance to organic operations that receive and/or update their organic certification October 1 to September 30 of the following year. Eligible applicants may receive reimbursement for 75% of certification fees, up to a maximum of $750.00 per scope of certification, per year. Certification scopes include crop production, livestock production, and handling/processing. WSDA Organic Program was awarded and distributed $565,000 in 2011 and has been awarded up to $600,000 in reimbursements for 2012. We intend to use this full amount once again.
Only certified operations located within Washington State are eligible to receive cost-share money from the WSDA. For more information about the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, please contact our office.

Exporting Organic Products to the European Union

As of June 1, 2012, compliant USDA organic products may be exported to the European Union as “organic” without further certification. An exception to this allowance is that organic apples and pears must be produced without the use of antibiotics, an allowed practice to control fire blight outbreaks under U.S. Organic Standards but prohibited under an equivalency arrangement between the U.S. and EU.
WSDA limits the scope of our new EU equivalency evaluations to WSDA certified organic apple and pear producers and handlers. All other WSDA certified organic crops and products are approved as compliant with the U.S.-EU Equivalency Arrangement provided they are produced, processed, or packaged in the U.S. Certified operations with organic apple and pear varieties that have been verified as produced without the use of antibiotics will have a notation added to the WSDA National Organic Program (NOP) Producer or Handler Certificate, indicating compliance with the terms of the U.S.-EU Equivalency Arrangement. Program staff is working hard to update the NOP certificates for all compliant apple and pear producers, but this switch to a new system will take all season to accomplish. Those companies that are involved in exporting organic tree fruit may contact our office at anytime to inquire about a producer’s compliance with the terms of the U.S.-EU Equivalency Arrangement.
Our office must complete an EU import certificate (Certificate new organic seed database of Inspection) for all USDA organic products traded under the arrangement. This requirement is in place regardless of organic crop or product being shipped. Apples and pears produced with antibiotics, or products that have not been produced, processed, or packaged in the U.S. will not be issued a Certificate of Inspection. WSDA Organic Program provides this export document to WSDA certified operations for a fee of $40.00 per request.
More information on international organic markets can be found at http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/international.aspx. This site includes the WSDA Organic Program Guide to International Markets as well as electronic export document applications for the EU, Canada, Japan, Taiwan, and Korea.

Tags: Cost Share, Crop Materials, Exports, Handling materials, Washington State Department of Agriculture, WSDA, WSDA Organic Program Update