National Organic Program: Notice of Draft Guidance for Accredited Certifying Agents, Certified Operations and Applicants for Organic Certification, 78025-78026 [2014-30303]

Download as PDF 78025 Notices Federal Register Vol. 79, No. 248 Monday, December 29, 2014 This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency statements of organization and functions are examples of documents appearing in this section. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service [Doc. No. AMS–NOP–14–0062; NOP–14–01] National Organic Program: Notice of Draft Guidance for Accredited Certifying Agents, Certified Operations and Applicants for Organic Certification Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Notice of availability of draft guidance with request for comments. AGENCY: The National Organic Program (NOP) is announcing the availability of a draft guidance document intended for use by accredited certifying agents and certified operations. The draft guidance document is entitled as follows: Natural Resources and Biodiversity Conservation for Certified Organic Operations (NOP 5020). This draft guidance document is intended to inform the public of NOP’s current thinking on this topic. The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) invites organic producers, handlers, certifying agents, material evaluation programs, consumers and other interested parties to submit comments about these guidance provisions. A notice of availability of final guidance on this topic will be issued upon its final approval. Once finalized, this guidance document will be available from the NOP through, ‘‘The Program Handbook: Guidance and Instructions for Accredited Certifying Agents (ACAs) and Certified Operations.’’ This Handbook provides those who own, manage, or certify organic operations with guidance and instructions that can assist them in complying with the USDA organic regulations. The current addition of the Program Handbook is available online at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop or in print upon request. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:09 Dec 24, 2014 Jkt 235001 Comments must be submitted on or before February 27, 2015. ADDRESSES: Submit written requests for hard copies of this draft guidance document to Stacy Jones King, Agricultural Marketing Specialist, National Organic Program, USDA– AMS–NOP, 1400 Independence Ave.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 submit comments on this draft guidance document using the following procedures: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http:// www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. • Mail: Stacy Jones King, 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–14–0062; NOP–14–01. You should clearly indicate your position and the reasons supporting your position. If you are suggesting changes to the 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 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. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Nally Yanessa, Acting 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, Email: NOP.Guidance@ams.usda.gov, or visit DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00001 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 the NOP Web site at: www.ams.usda.gov/nop. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: I. Background The draft guidance document announced through this notice was developed in response to a May 2009 request from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that AMS clarify the requirements and limitations of the general natural resources and biodiversity conservation requirement of the USDA organic regulations (7 CFR part 205). 7 CFR. 205.200 requires operations to ‘‘maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.’’ Section 205.2 of the USDA organic regulations defines ‘‘natural resources of the operation’’ as the ‘‘physical, hydrological, and biological features of a production operation, including soil, water, wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.’’ This draft guidance provides examples of production practices that support these conservation principles and demonstrate compliance with 7 CFR. 205.200. This guidance also clarifies: (1) The certified organic operator’s responsibility to select, carry out, and record production practices that ‘‘maintain or improve the natural resources of the operation;’’ (2) the accredited certifying agent’s responsibility to verify operator compliance with this requirement; and (3) how domestic organic operations that participate in a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program and the NOP can reduce their paperwork burdens. II. Significance of Guidance This draft guidance document is 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 E:\FR\FM\29DEN1.SGM 29DEN1 78026 Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 248 / Monday, December 29, 2014 / Notices 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. 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. III. 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. Authority: 7 U.S.C. 6501–6522. Dated: December 22, 2014. Rex A. Barnes, Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service. [FR Doc. 2014–30303 Filed 12–24–14; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 3410–02–P DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE Agricultural Marketing Service [Document No. AMS–ST–14–0066] Plant Variety Protection Board; Request for Nominations Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA. ACTION: Notice. AGENCY: The Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO) is seeking candidates for the Plant Variety Protection Board (PVP Board). The PVP Board consists of 14 members, each of whom is appointed for a 2-year period, with no member appointed for more than three 2-year periods. The term of the present Board will expire in May 2015. In order to provide the Secretary of Agriculture with a broad choice from a diverse group of applicants, the PVPO is asking for nominated members to serve on the Board for 2 years from the date of appointment. PVP Board members will serve without compensation, except for standard government reimbursable expenses. tkelley on DSK3SPTVN1PROD with NOTICES SUMMARY: VerDate Sep<11>2014 19:09 Dec 24, 2014 Jkt 235001 Nomination packages (an Application for Committee Membership (AD–755) and resume) must be received on or before February 6, 2015. ADDRESSES: Nominations should be sent to Paul Zankowski, Plant Variety Protection Office (PVPO), Science and Technology, AMS, USDA, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Room 4512, Washington, DC 20250; Telephone: (202) 720–1128; Fax: (202) 260–8976; Email: Paul.Zankowski@ams.usda.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The Plant Variety Protection Act (PVPA) (7 U.S.C. 2321 et seq.) provides legal protection in the form of intellectual property rights to developers of new varieties of plants, which are reproduced sexually by seed or are tuber-propagated. A Certificate of Plant Variety Protection is awarded to an owner of a crop variety after an examination shows that it is new, distinct from other varieties, and genetically uniform and stable through successive generations. The term of protection is 20 years for most crops and 25 years for trees, shrubs, and vines. The PVPA also provides for a statutory Board to be appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture (7 U.S. C. 2327). The duties of the Board are to: (1) Advise the Secretary of Agriculture concerning the adoption of rules and regulations to facilitate the proper administration of the PVPA; (2) provide advisory counsel to the Secretary of Agriculture on all appeals from the Examiner; and (3) advise the Secretary of Agriculture on any other matters under the Regulations and Rules of Practice and on all questions under section 44 of the PVPA, ‘‘Public Interest in Wide Usage’’ (7 U.S.C. 2404). Reestablishing the PVP Board is necessary and in the public interest. The PVPA provides that ‘‘The Board shall consist of individuals who are experts in various areas of varietal development covered by this Act.’’ (7 U.S.C. 2327(a)). The Board membership ‘‘shall include farmer representation and shall be drawn approximately equally from the private or seed industry sector and from the sector of government or the public.’’ (7 U.S.C. 2327(a)). The PVP Board consists of 14 members, each of whom is appointed for a 2-year period, with no member appointed for more than three 2-year periods. The term of the present Board will expire in May 2015. The first meeting of the new Board will most likely be held in the summer of 2015. In order to provide the Secretary of Agriculture with a broad choice from a diverse group of applicants, the PVPO is asking for nominated members to serve DATES: PO 00000 Frm 00002 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 on the Board for 2 years from the date of appointment. PVP Board members will serve without compensation, except for standard government reimbursable expenses. To ensure that the recommendations of the PVP Board take into account the needs of the diverse groups served by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) (from research and production to trade, use, and consumption), the USDA will vet every candidate who applies for membership to the Federal Advisory Committee. Each applicant must clear all stages of the vetting process. Vetting is a comprehensive personal and professional background investigation that specifically includes, but is not limited to, an analysis of each candidate’s criminal history, bankruptcy filings, liens and judgments, affiliations and associations, lobbyist status, and prior involvement with USDA. This process is used to ensure that the finest candidates are selected to represent the interests of the USDA. Nomination packages with completed AD 755 background information forms and resumes should be submitted no later than February 6, 2015. Final selection of members will be made by the Secretary of Agriculture. All nomination materials should be mailed in a single, complete package to: Paul Zankowski, Commissioner; Plant Variety Protection Office; 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Room 4512; Washington DC 20250. USDA has special interest in assuring that women, minority groups, and the physically disabled are adequately represented on these advisory committees. Nominations for female, minority, or disabled candidates are welcomed and encouraged. Please see http://www.ams.usda.gov/ PVPO and click on PVPO Board (under Resources on the right side) for information on the Charter, and AD 755 form. The AD–755 form can also be found on the USDA Advisory Committee Web site (www.usda.gov/ advisory_committees.xml). The Charter for the PVP Board is available on the Web site at: http:// www.facadatabase.gov/ download.aspx?fn=Charters/1309_ 2013.09.11_PVPBCharter2.7.13_(201309-11-05-03-31).pdf or may be requested by contacting the individual identified in the ADDRESSES section of this notice. USDA prohibits discrimination in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, sexual orientation, and marital or family status. Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for communication of program information E:\FR\FM\29DEN1.SGM 29DEN1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 248 (Monday, December 29, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 78025-78026]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-30303]


========================================================================
Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

========================================================================


Federal Register / Vol. 79, No. 248 / Monday, December 29, 2014 / 
Notices

[[Page 78025]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Agricultural Marketing Service

[Doc. No. AMS-NOP-14-0062; NOP-14-01]


National Organic Program: Notice of Draft Guidance for Accredited 
Certifying Agents, Certified Operations and Applicants for Organic 
Certification

AGENCY: Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability of draft guidance with request for 
comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: The National Organic Program (NOP) is announcing the 
availability of a draft guidance document intended for use by 
accredited certifying agents and certified operations. The draft 
guidance document is entitled as follows: Natural Resources and 
Biodiversity Conservation for Certified Organic Operations (NOP 5020). 
This draft guidance document is intended to inform the public of NOP's 
current thinking on this topic. The Agricultural Marketing Service 
(AMS) invites organic producers, handlers, certifying agents, material 
evaluation programs, consumers and other interested parties to submit 
comments about these guidance provisions.
    A notice of availability of final guidance on this topic will be 
issued upon its final approval. Once finalized, this guidance document 
will be available from the NOP through, ``The Program Handbook: 
Guidance and Instructions for Accredited Certifying Agents (ACAs) and 
Certified Operations.'' This Handbook provides those who own, manage, 
or certify organic operations with guidance and instructions that can 
assist them in complying with the USDA organic regulations. The current 
addition of the Program Handbook is available online at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/nop or in print upon request.

DATES: Comments must be submitted on or before February 27, 2015.

ADDRESSES: Submit written requests for hard copies of this draft 
guidance document to Stacy Jones King, 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 submit comments on this draft guidance 
document using the following procedures:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. 
Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
     Mail: Stacy Jones King, 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-14-0062; NOP-14-01. You should clearly 
indicate your position and the reasons supporting your position. If you 
are suggesting changes to the 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 
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.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shannon Nally Yanessa, Acting 
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, Email: 
NOP.Guidance@ams.usda.gov, or visit the NOP Web site at: 
www.ams.usda.gov/nop.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

I. Background

    The draft guidance document announced through this notice was 
developed in response to a May 2009 request from the National Organic 
Standards Board (NOSB) that AMS clarify the requirements and 
limitations of the general natural resources and biodiversity 
conservation requirement of the USDA organic regulations (7 CFR part 
205). 7 CFR. 205.200 requires operations to ``maintain or improve the 
natural resources of the operation, including soil and water quality.'' 
Section 205.2 of the USDA organic regulations defines ``natural 
resources of the operation'' as the ``physical, hydrological, and 
biological features of a production operation, including soil, water, 
wetlands, woodlands, and wildlife.''
    This draft guidance provides examples of production practices that 
support these conservation principles and demonstrate compliance with 7 
CFR. 205.200. This guidance also clarifies: (1) The certified organic 
operator's responsibility to select, carry out, and record production 
practices that ``maintain or improve the natural resources of the 
operation;'' (2) the accredited certifying agent's responsibility to 
verify operator compliance with this requirement; and (3) how domestic 
organic operations that participate in a USDA Natural Resources 
Conservation Service (NRCS) program and the NOP can reduce their 
paperwork burdens.

II. Significance of Guidance

    This draft guidance document is 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

[[Page 78026]]

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. 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.

III. 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.

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

    Dated: December 22, 2014.
Rex A. Barnes,
Associate Administrator, Agricultural Marketing Service.
[FR Doc. 2014-30303 Filed 12-24-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-02-P