National Organic Program

Overview 

The practice of producing organically grown agricultural products has existed for several decades in the United States and has evolved from a small-scale and localized system into a highly organized and global production and marketing system. These changes motivated the organic industry to establish standards for organic production and marketing. Read the full overview

Note: Recently added resources are posted at the top of the applicable sections.

Major Statutes

Organic Food Production Act of 1990, 7 U.S.C. §§ 6501-6524

Regulations

National Organic Program Regulations, 7 C.F.R. Part 205

Case Law

Case Law Index for National Organic Program

Administrative Law Decisions

USDA Judicial Officer’s Decisions (Center Published)
USDA National Appeals Division
USDA Office of the Administrative Law Judges
USDA Office of the Judicial Officer

Center Research Publications

What is an Organic Dairy Cow? (Caracciolo, 2022)
Organic Update: AMS Proposes to De-list 18 Substances (Caracciolo, 2021)
The Fight for Organic: Hydroponic Certification Under Fire (2020)
The Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices Rule and Current Events (Barker, E. Rumley, 2018)
Food Labelling for Specialty Crop Producers (Rumley 2014)
Mandatory GMO Labeling Laws (Pittman 2014)
State-Specific Direct Marketing Business Guides (National AgLaw Center & U. IL @Urbana)
Federal Regulation of Organic Food: A Research Guide for Legal Practitioners and Food Industry Professionals (Jillian, 2006)
A Legal Guide to the National Organic Program (Pittman, 2004)
Farmers’ Markets Rules, Regulations, and Opportunities (Hamilton, 2002)

Congressional Research Service Reports

Reports– published and made available by CRS beginning in 2017
>Subjects- published by CRS and made available by NALC until 2018:

Sustainable and Organic

Agricultural Law Bibliography

Introduction   |   Keyword Search   |   Browse Categories

Legal Publications on National Organic Program:

Biotechnology Food and Drug Law
Fruits and Vegetables – Perishable Agricultural Commodities
Hunger and Food Security Issues
Livestock and Packers & Stockyards
Sustainable and Organic Farming

Reference Resources

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Labeling of Pesticide Products Under the National Organic Program
National Ag Compliance Assistance Centers
National Organic Program Guidance
Organic Farming
Pesticide Registration

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)

Fact Sheets
National Organic Program
National Organic Program Handbook
National Organic Standards BoardOrganic Enforcement
Organic Integrity Database
Organic Labeling Standards
Organic Livestock and Poultry Requirements
Organic Program Reports and Presentations
Organic Regulations
Organic Reports
Publication: Characteristics, Costs, and Issues for Organic Dairy Farming (McBride & Greene, 2009)
Technical and Financial Assistance for Organic Producers
The National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances
USDA: Organic Program (Certification, Training, Data)

Economic Research Service (ERS)

Publication: Emerging Issues in the Organic Industry (Greene et al., 2009)

Farm Service Agency (FSA)

Help for Organic Farmers
Organic Certification Cost Share Program

Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)

Claims Guidance
Compliance Assistance: Using the Claim “Certified Organic By …” on Meat and Poultry Product Labeling
FSIS Labeling Guideline on Documentation Needed to Substantiate Animal Raising Claims for Label Submission
FSIS Responses to Questions from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Regarding Organic Meat and Poultry Products Labeling
Labeling Guidance

 National Agricultural Library (NAL)

Alternative Farming Systems Information Center
Organic Agricultural Products: Marketing and Trade Resources (updated 2005)
Organically Produced Foods: Food Safety IssuesOrganic Production
Organic Production/Organic Food: Information Access Tools
Organic Roots Collection
USDA Programs

Natural Resources Conservation Series (NRCS)

Conservation and Biological Diversity in Organic Production (McEvoy & Haines)
EQIP Organic Initiatives
Organic Conservation Planning Guides
Organic Program
Organic Technical Assistance
Revised Universal Soil Loss Equation, Version 2 (RUSLE2)

Congressional Resources

U.S. House Agriculture Committee
Subcommittee on Livestock and Foreign Agriculture
Subcommittee on Nutrition, Oversight, and Department Operations
U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, & Forestry
Subcommittee on Livestock, Dairy, Poultry, Local Food Systems, and Food Safety and Security
Subcommittee on Food and Nutrition, Specialty Crops, Organics, and Research

Other Federal Resources

Alcohol Beverages Labeled with Organic Claims (Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau)
Organic on Food Labels  (Food & Drug Administration)
Organic Products (Foreign Agricultural Service)

International Resources

Canada Organic
International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements – IFOAM
Official Journal of The International Society of Organic Agricultural Research
One Cert International Organic Standards
Organic Agriculture (Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations – FAO)
Quality Assurance International (QAI)
International Organic Trade Agreements (USDA)

Additional Resources

Advancing Organic Agriculture in the U.S. (Center for Food Safety 2010)
California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)
California Organic Program (California Dept. of Food & Agriculture)
Certified Maryland Organic (Maryland Dept. of Agriculture)
eOrganic (Oregon State Univ.)
Missouri Organic Certification Cost Share Program (Missouri Dept. of Agriculture
National Organic Program Posts (Center Published Ag & Food Law Blog)
Oregon Tilth
Organic Agriculture (Minnesota Dept. of Agriculture)
Organic Crop Improvement Association
Organic Farming Research Foundation: Reports (OFRF)
Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI)
Organic Trade Association (OTA)
Organic Webinars (Conservation of Natural Resources Webinar Portal)
Rodale Institute
National Organic Program (Organic Trade Association)
Washington State Department of Agriculture Organic Food Program

Publications

Blanket NOP rules and regional realities: from the field (Miller, 2022)
Introduction to Crop Insurance for Organic and Transitioning Producers (OFRF) (2019)
A Comparative Analysis of Conventional, Genetically Modified (GM) Crops and Organic Farming Practices and the Role of Pesticides in Each (Ehn & Fox, 2019)
Instruction: Organic Certification of Industrial Hemp Production (USDA 2019)
Legal Implications of “Organic” Seafood Labeling Based on Foreign Standards(Porter & Kulaga 2019)
Trademark Law and the National Organic Program (Reid, 2019)
Crop Insurance for Organic Farmers (Univ. of Vermont 2018)
Farm Bill Drilldown: Organic Agriculture (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition 2018)
Organic Farmers in Disasters: Flooding and Whole Farm Revenue Crop Insurance (Farmers’ Legal Action Group – FLAG Inc. 2018)
Organic Regulations and Resources (Ernst, Univ. of Kentucky Extension 2018)
What’s Behind the Organic Seal? Organic Labels Explained (USDA 2018)
Growing Organic, State by State (Berkeley Food Systems 2017)
The World of Organic Agriculture: Statistics & Emerging Trends 2019 (Organics Intl. 2019)
Guidebook for Organic Certification (Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service 2016)
Using the USDA Organic Seal (USDA, 2016)
Economic Barriers to Organic Transition (California Certified Organic Farmers 2015)
Frequently Asked Questions for Organic Certification (Texas Dept. of Agriculture 2015)
Profit Potential of Certified Organic Field Crop Production (Economic Research Service 2015)
Organic Labeling at Farmers Markets (USDA, 2015)
Vegetable Farmer’s Guide to Organic Certification (National Young Farmers Coalition 2014)
Organic Livestock Requirements (USDA, 2013)
Guide for Organic Livestock Producers (USDA 2012)
Organic Agriculture and the Law  (FAO 2012)
Transitioning to Organic Farm Systems (Wszelaki et al., Univ. of Tennessee Extension 2012)
Navigating the National Organic Program  (Maryland Dept. of Agriculture 2009)
Hushed Up: Confidentiality Clauses in Organic Milk Contracts (Krueger, 2008)
Organics Plus: Regulating Beyond the Current Organic Standards (Harrison, 2008)
When Your Processor Requires More Than Organic Certification: Additional Requirements in Organic Milk Contracts (Krueger, 2008)
Federal Law Protects Farmers’ Rights to be Paid for Fruit and Vegetable Contracts (FLAG Inc. 2007)
If Your Farm Is Organic, Must It Be GMO-Free? Organic Farmers, Genetically Modified Organisms, and the Law (Krueger, 2007)
Understanding Farmers’ Rights to be Paid for Fruit and Vegetable Crops (FLAG Inc. 2007)
Future Issues in Agricultural Law and Rural Practice (Hamilton, 2006)
Of Affected Acres and Alternative Markets: Which Way for Organic Farmers? (Krueger, 2006)
Understanding Farmers’ Market Rules (Spicer & Krueger, 2006)
Before You Sign on the Dotted Line. . .Questions for Farmers to Ask Before Entering Into a Direct Marketing Agreement (Krueger, 2005)
Recent Growth Patterns in the U.S. Organic Foods Market (ERS 2002)
Summary: The USDA National Organic Program Requirements for Food Retailers and Distribution Centers (Food Marketing Institute, October 2002)
Codex Alimentarius – Organically Produced Foods (FAO, 2001)
Accreditation of Organic Certification Bodies (AMS)
Accreditation Policies and Procedures (AMS)
A Guide for Conventional Farmers Transitioning to Organic Certification (AMS)
Guidelines for Organic Crop Certification (USDA)
Implementation of National and International Organic Certification and Labeling Standards (Sullivan)
Organic Farming Compliance Handbook: A Resource Guide for Western Region Agricultural Professionals (Baker et al., Western Region USDA SARE Program)
Organic Integrity in the Supply Chain (USDA)
Organic Produce, Price Premiums, and Eco-Labeling in U.S. Farmers Markets (ERS)
Organic Regulation, Certification, Transition & History Publications (National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service)