AHPA submitted comments yesterday to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in response to a January 2017 notice of proposed rulemaking that would establish an industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for certified organic products.
The proposed Organic Research, Promotion, and Information Order is designed to strengthen the position of certified organic products in the marketplace, support research to benefit the organic industry, and improve access to information and data across the organic sector.
AHPA has not taken a formal position on the proposed order, but notes that it appears more companies that market National Organic Program (NOP) organic herbal products, including herbal teas, herbal dietary supplements, and non-food products like personal care products, have expressed public support for the proposed order than have expressed opposition.
AHPA's comments also request:
- that the makeup of the Organic Research and Promotion Board to be established by the proposed order should reflect the source of funds in a more proportional manner, such that organic producers and handlers should be represented on the board more closely proportionate to the percentage of the total annual assessments paid under the order by each of these types of operations;
- a larger portion of the funds assessed through the proposed order be devoted to organic agricultural research;
- promotional expenditures be used to promote all types of NOP organic goods, including herbal products such as teas, supplements, and body care products;
- calculations used to determine assessment fees take into account total cost of goods sold, including labor and overhead expenses; and
- clarification that the NOP organic standard applies to conventional foods, non-conventional foods such as dietary supplements, and non-food products.
"AHPA members market herbs and herbal products labeled as 'organic' in compliance with USDA's National Organic Program and could be directly impacted by the proposed order," said AHPA president Michael McGuffin. "AHPA has an interest in ensuring the proposed order helps promote the responsible commerce of organic products that contain herbs."