The Organic Foods Production

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The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), enacted as part of the 1990 Farm Bill, set the stage for establishing uniform national standards for the production and handling of foods labeled organic. The Act authorized the creation of a new USDA National Organic Program and established an advisory group called the National Organic Standards Board to help determine the rules.

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) includes a set of standards for organic growing. Pesticides, fertilizers, and other farm and garden products meeting these standards are acceptable for use in USDA-certified organic farming, production, and processing operations. In a nutshell, here's what's acceptable and what's not under NOP standards:

II Acceptable: Most horticultural oils and soaps, most copper- and sulfur-based fungicides, seaweed extracts, rock powders, and animal manures

Not acceptable: Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetically modified organisms, and sewage-sludge fertilizers

Figure 2-1:

The OMRI logo.

Figure 2-1:

The OMRI logo.

Although some people label the National Organic Program as a watering-down of the principles of organic farming, it does ensure that the products you buy meet certain criteria.

The rules can be a bit confusing and are continually evolving as new products are introduced. Fortunately, there's an easy way to determine whether a product is all right to use in your organic garden: Look for an OMRI logo on the label (see Figure 2-1).

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