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Proposed Rule

National Organic Program; Notice of Draft Guidance for Accredited Certifying Agents and Certified Operations

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Information about this document as published in the Federal Register.

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AGENCY:

Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION:

Notice of Availability With Request For Comments.

SUMMARY:

The National Organic Program (NOP) is announcing the availability of four draft guidance documents intended for use by accredited certifying agents and certified operations. The draft guidance documents are entitled as follows: “The Use of Kelp in Organic Livestock Feed (NOP 5027)”; “Responding to Results from Pesticide Residue Testing (NOP 5028)”; “Seeds, Annual Seedlings, and Planting Stock in Organic Crop Production (NOP 5029)”; and “Evaluating Allowed Ingredients and Sources of Vitamins and Minerals For Organic Livestock Feed, Feed Supplements, and Feed Additives (NOP 5030)”.

These draft guidance documents are intended to inform the public of NOP's current thinking on these topics. A notice of availability of final guidance on these topics will be issued upon their final approval. Once finalized, these guidance documents will be available from the NOP through “The Program Handbook: Guidance and Instructions for Accredited Certifying Agents (ACAs) and Certified Operations.

DATES:

To ensure that NOP considers your comment on this draft guidance before it begins work on the final Start Printed Page 34181version of the guidance, submit written comments on the draft guidance by August 12, 2011.

ADDRESSES:

Submit written requests for hard copies of these draft guidance documents to Toni Strother, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 2646 So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268. See the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for electronic access to the draft guidance documents.

Interested persons may comment on these four draft guidance documents using the following procedures:

Internet: http://www.regulations.gov.

Mail: Comments may be submitted by mail to: Toni Strother, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 2646 So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268.

Written comments responding to this request should be identified with the document number AMS-NOP-11-0002; NOP-11-02. You should clearly indicate your position and the reasons for your position. You should clearly indicate which guidance document you are commenting on, especially if you choose to comment on more than one draft guidance document. If you are suggesting changes to a draft guidance document, you should include recommended language changes, as appropriate, along with any relevant supporting documentation.

USDA intends to make available all comments, including names and addresses when provided, regardless of submission procedure used, on http://www.regulations.gov and at USDA, AMS, NOP, Room 2646-South building, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC, from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday (except official Federal holidays). Persons wanting to visit the USDA South building to view comments from the public to this notice are requested to make an appointment by calling (202) 720-3252.

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FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT:

Melissa R. Bailey, PhD, Director, Standards Division, National Organic Program (NOP), USDA-AMS-NOP, 1400 Independence Ave., SW., Room 2646-So., Ag Stop 0268, Washington, DC 20250-0268, Telephone: (202) 720-3252, E-mail: NOP.guidance@ams.usda.gov, or visit the NOP Web site at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/​nop.

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SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

I. Background

The NOP selected the topics for the four draft guidance documents announced through this notice in response to recommendations issued by the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the need to improve consistency in how certifying agents and certified operations are implementing the NOP regulations at 7 CFR part 205. The NOP developed “Seeds, Annual Seedlings, and Planting Stock in Organic Crop Production (NOP 5029)”, and “Evaluating Allowed Ingredients and Sources of Vitamins and Minerals For Organic Livestock Feed, Feed Supplements, and Feed Additives (NOP 5030)” in response to outstanding NOSB recommendations from May 2002, February 2005, and November 2008. The NOP developed “The Use of Kelp in Organic Livestock Feed (NOP 5027)” in response to requests by certifying agents and certified operations for clarifications on this issue. The NOP developed “Responding to Results from Pesticide Residue Testing (NOP 5028)” to describe the reporting scheme and actions that certifying agents should be instituting to meet the requirements at § 205.670 of the NOP regulations.

II. Significance of Guidance

These draft guidance documents are being issued in accordance with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Bulletin on Agency Good Guidance Practices (GGPs) (January 25, 2007, 72 FR 3432-3440).

The purpose of GGPs is to ensure that program guidance documents are developed with adequate public participation, are readily available to the public, and are not applied as binding requirements. The draft guidance, when finalized, will represent the NOP's current thinking on these topics. It does not create or confer any rights for, or on, any person and does not operate to bind the NOP or the public. Guidance documents are intended to provide a uniform method for operations to comply that can reduce the burden of developing their own methods and simplify audits and inspections. Alternative approaches that can demonstrate compliance with the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), as amended (7 U.S.C. 6501-6522), and its implementing regulations are also acceptable. As with any alternative compliance approach, the NOP strongly encourages industry to discuss alternative approaches with the NOP before implementing them to avoid unnecessary or wasteful expenditures of resources and to ensure the proposed alternative approach complies with the Act and its implementing regulations.

Electronic Access

Persons with access to Internet may obtain the draft guidance at either NOP's Web site at http://www.ams.usda.gov/​nop or http://www.regulations.gov. Requests for hard copies of the draft guidance documents can be obtained by submitting a written request to the person listed in the ADDRESSES section of this Notice.

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Authority: 7 U.S.C. 6501-6522.

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Dated: June 7, 2011.

Ellen King,

Acting Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.

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[FR Doc. 2011-14500 Filed 6-10-11; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 3410-02-P