USDA/National Organic Program

QAI is a USDA-accredited certifying agency (ACA), approved to provide organic certification in accordance with the USDA's National Organic Program. Certification is important for consumers, the industry and the regulatory community in order to assure organic integrity from farm to retail shelf. A product marked "certified organic" means that an accredited certifying agency, such as QAI, has verified that the product labeled as "organic" is true to that organic labeling claim, as specified by the National Organic Program in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990.

The National Organic Standard (NOS) is a federal regulation created by the USDA and administered by the National Organic Program. The USDA Organic Seal and the QAI Seal both stand for assurance that a product on which those seals appear has been verified as certified organic in compliance with the strict USDA federal regulations for organic.

National Organic Program

The National Organic Program (NOP) develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards through the National Organic Standard (NOS). The goal of the National Organic Program is to:

  • Develop and implement national standards governing the marketing of agricultural products as organically produced.
  • Facilitate commerce in fresh and processed food that is organically produced.
  • Ensure consumers that such products meet consistent standards.

As a USDA-accredited certifier, QAI strictly follows the USDA National Organic Program guidelines to ensure all USDA requirements are met. As part of our USDA accreditation, QAI updates programs and policies as needed to ensure ongoing compliance with National Organic Program guidelines. It is a relationship based on continual checks and balances to ensure organic production is in compliance with federal regulations at every link in the organic production chain.

Historical Background

The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990, part of the 1990 Farm Bill, authorized the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to appoint a 15-member National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The Board's primary mission is to make recommendations about whether a substance should be allowed or prohibited in organic production or handling, to assist in the development of standards for substances to be used in organic production, and to advise the Secretary on other aspects of the implementation of the OFPA including required practices in livestock, crop and processing and handling sectors of organic production.

Currently the NOSB board is comprised of four farmers/growers, two handlers/processors, one retailer, one scientist, three consumer/public interest advocates, three environmentalists, and one USDA accredited certifying agent, a seat formerly held by QAI Vice President Joe Smillie. All are thoroughly vetted Congressional appointees.

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