|August 12, 2011|
Toni Strother, Agricultural Marketing Specialist
National Organic Program, USDA–AMS–NOP
Room 2646–So., Ag Stop 0268
1400 Independence Ave., SW.
Washington, DC 20250–0268
RE: National Organic Program; Notice of Draft Guidance NOP 5027: The Use of Kelp in Organic Livestock Feed. AMS-NOP-11-0002: NOP-11-02
Dear Ms. Strother:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on NOP Draft Guidance on The Use of Kelp in Organic Livestock Feed.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers’ associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.
OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members, and its mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy (http://www.ota.com/).
OTA is pleased to see draft guidance on the use of kelp in organic livestock feed. The question of whether kelp fed to livestock must be sourced in organic form has been unclear for many years. We believe the confusion surrounding the issue can be described as follows:
OTA recognizes that we now have the following information that fully supports the use of organic kelp in livestock feed:
- The regulations for livestock feed require agricultural products to be organic. However, allowed non-synthetic and synthetic feed additives and feed supplements may also be used. Historically, kelp was viewed as an allowed non-synthetic feed supplement. Its agricultural or non-agricultural status was not questioned or even considered relevant because, as a supplement, the focus was on whether it was synthetic and on the National List, or nonsynthetic and therefore allowed. Formal and clear guidance addressing this point was only recently published.
- Until recently, there has been a lack of guidance regarding the certification of kelp as a wild crop. Many have felt that kelp cannot be certified organic because of the lack of aquaculture standards and/or because of its aquatic nature and the difficulties of complying with the contamination prevention standard if one were to seek wild-crop certification.
OTA supports the NOP Draft Guidance Policy that kelp used in livestock feed must be certified organic. We understand that because of the confusion described at the beginning of our comments, a phase-in period may be necessary to provide certifiers the time to communicate the guidance to clients, and to allow all operators adequate time to source organic kelp, update their Organic System Plan, and integrate it into their overall system. OTA has not seen NOP present any evidence or data supporting whether a 24 month phase-in period is the adequate time needed. Therefore, we encourage NOP to carefully consider any information received about the availability of organic kelp and the time needed to meet the demands of the organic sector.
- Kelp is an aquatic plant and is wild harvested.
- The regulations certify agricultural products and include a wild-crop harvest standard.
- Kelp is listed as an agricultural product under § 205.606.
- The American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has approved dried kelp from the families Laminariaceae and Fucaceae for use as ingredients in livestock feed.
- NOP has issued final guidance on Wild Crop Harvesting (NOP 5022) specifying that kelp can be certified organic.
- Under § 205.237, all agricultural ingredients in livestock feed must be certified organic.
- The NOP Draft Guidance (5030) on Evaluating Allowed Ingredients and Sources of Vitamins and Minerals For Organic Livestock Feed, Feed Supplements, and Feed Additives clarifies that all agricultural ingredients included in the ingredients list for livestock feed products must be certified organic.
- Organic kelp is available.
Again, on behalf of our members across the supply chain and the country, OTA thanks NOP for the opportunity to comment and for carefully considering our comments.
Associate Director of Organic Standards and Industry Outreach
Organic Trade Association
cc: Laura Batcha
Executive Vice President
Organic Trade Association