National Organic Program (NOP)

Last updated: November 19, 2021

What Does National Organic Program (NOP) Mean?

The National Organic Program (NOP) is a regulatory program in the United States. It is a part of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service.

The NOP is responsible for developing national standards for organically produced agricultural products, which includes crops, livestock, and products derived from those items such as beauty products.

NOP standards help let consumers know that products that carry the USDA organic seal meet consistent, uniform standards. It should be noted that NOP regulations do not address food safety or nutrition; these factors are governed by additional agencies in the US.


Maximum Yield Explains National Organic Program (NOP)

In the United States, the National Organic Program is the federal regulatory framework that governs organic food. It is also the name of the program of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) responsible for administering and enforcing the regulatory framework.

The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 required that the USDA develop national standards for organic products, and the final rule establishing the National Organic Program was first published in the Federal Register in 2000. It is coded in the Code of Federal Regulations at 7 C.F.R. 205. The main mission of the National Organic Program is to protect the integrity of the USDA organic seal.

The National Organic Program involves fresh and processed agricultural food products, such as crops and livestock, as well as non-food products that may be sold as organic, such as natural fibers like organic cotton. Health and beauty products can also be labeled organic through the NOP if compliant with the National Organic Program's standards.

The main key activities of the National Organic Program are to maintain the list of certified organic operations and help new farmers and businesses learn how to get certified. The National Organic Program is to develop regulations and guidance on organic standards, manage the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, accredit certifying agents to certify organic producers and handlers, establish international organic import and export policies, and investigate and take action on regulatory violation complaints.

The National Organic Program also facilitates the work of the National Organic Standards Board, which is a Federal Advisory Committee. The program oversees the Organic Certification Cost Share programs that support certified organic operators; provide training to certifying agents, USDA staff, and other stakeholders; and engage and serve the organic community.


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