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The National Organic Program’s new Pasture Rule becomes law on June 17, 2010. It will be enforced for currently certified producers on June 17, 2011, while new applicants for livestock certification must meet all aspects of the new rule when they become certified. Those who are adding livestock after June 17, 2010, to their currently certified land also need to comply immediately.

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The USDA published a final rule in the Federal Register on June 7 that revises National Organic Program (NOP) regulations to comply with the final court order in the Harvey v. Johanns lawsuit and to implement the 2005 amendments to the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (the Act or OFPA).

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The National Organic Program (NOP) of the USDA released the final rule on organic production on December 20, 2000. This rule and the Organic Food Production Act of 1990 require that agricultural products labeled as organic originate from farms or handling operations certified by a state or private agency that has been accredited by the USDA.

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This time around the USDA did a much better job proposing a rule that will regulate organic agriculture in the United States. Its first try missed the mark by a mile, and hundreds of thousands of people let USDA know it. However, even though the second proposed Rule is quite acceptable, people should comment for three reasons.

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For the most part the materials that are used in organic systems are in their native state-perhaps physically modified by grinding, for instance, or produced by biological processes. Synthetic materials are almost entirely prohibited. However, organic standards selected a few synthetic materials that they allowed – requiring that they meet stringent criteria concerning their safety to humans and the environment, their place in the agroecosystem from origin to breakdown, and their compatibility with a system of organic production. One exception to this basic guideline is the group of chemicals known as “inerts.”

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