Thursday, June 3, 2010

Approved Organic Materials

Today's blog is a listing of questions concerning what kinds of materials (fertilizers, pesticides, etc.) that are allowed according to organic standards from the Guidebook for Organic Certification.  Remember that whenever you are in doubt, always check with your certifying agency.

Q.  How do I find out what fertilizers, pest control inputs or other products I can use on my organic farm?
The NOP Final Rule, Subpart G includes the “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.” This list has several sections, describing generic synthetic substances allowed for use in organic crop and livestock production and processing, as well as lists of non-synthetic substances prohibited for use in organic crop or livestock production or processing. Basically, for crop and livestock materials natural substances (non-synthetic) are ALLOWED unless they are specifically prohibited on the list, and synthetic substances are NOT ALLOWED unless they are specifically approved on the list. It is important to note that there are some things that are allowed for livestock production, but not allowed in crop production. Be sure when using the National Lists that you look at the correct listing for your planned use.

Q.  As a processor of organic products, do I use the same lists?
Processors have different lists of allowed and non-allowed products. Section §205.605 is a list of non-agricultural substances allowed as ingredients in “organic” or “made with” organic products. §205.606 is a list of non-organically produced agricultural products allowed as ingredients. The difference is not necessarily synthetic or non-synthetic, but agricultural vs. non-agricultural and organic vs. non-organic. Always check with your certification agency before adding a new ingredient or product to your organic plan.

Q. Can the lists change?
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) makes recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on substances that should be added to or removed from the National List. The USDA publishes amendments to the National List in the Federal Register, after which the substances may be used in organic production or handling. Any amendments can be found at (click on “National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances”). Your certification agency will keep you informed by mail or newsletter of new items added, or of previously allowed items removed from the National List.

Q.  Is there other help in understanding what products are allowed?
A non-profit organization, the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI), offers a brand name product review program, where suppliers of agricultural inputs (both single ingredient and blends) can have their proprietary active and inert ingredients reviewed as being compliant with National Organic Program regulations. The input suppliers pay for this service. While the OMRI listed seal can help you determine what is approved for use, not all approved product suppliers have paid OMRI to have their products reviewed and there may be other products that are acceptable as well. Always check with your certification agency before using any product, to verify the specific brand name product and formulation is approved in organic production. The OMRI product list is available either through your certification agency or on the OMRI website.

Q.  What are the rules for using things like salt or lime on my organic farm ?
Natural minerals such as salt or mined lime may be used, but you must be careful that nothing has been added to them. Sometimes additional ingredients, such as an anti-caking agent, have been added that are non-allowed synthetics. In the case of lime, it must be mined lime, and not recycled wallboard, slaked or burned lime or paper mill sludge. Check your labels and sources carefully. To ensure that you have used approved products, your certification agency will require you to provide ingredient information for all feed, minerals, supplements, fertilizers, and inoculants that you have used on your farm or processing plant. If you have questions, contact your certification agency. Many organic seed and organic feed suppliers also carry salt, livestock mineral and fertility inputs that are approved for organic production.

Q.  What are the rules about using treated lumber on an organic farm?
The use of lumber treated with non-approved synthetic substances is prohibited for new installations or replacement purposes where it may have contact with soil that is growing an organic crop (including grass in pastures) or in contact with livestock (such as corrals or fence posts that the animals may rub up against). This prohibition includes the new formula treated wood, which has replaced the copper arsenate or creosote treated lumber. Large-dimensional treated lumber used to build, for example, a graveled loafing shed, can have untreated plywood placed over the treated wood up to a height of six feet to prevent contact with livestock. An electric fence line, keeping the animals from eating around the base of treated wood posts, may also be used. Check with your certifier for their specific guidance on this issue.

No comments:

Post a Comment