policy issues

Harmonizing Federal Organic Standards with National, State Feed Laws

The American Feed Industry Association boasts a diverse membership that uses a variety of ingredients – produced conventionally, with biotechnology  or certified organic – to meet its customers’ needs. No matter how they are produced, these ingredients go through a rigorous review process before they are deemed safe for use in the country’s feed and pet food. As such, AFIA works with federal regulators to ensure that no policies are adopted that would circumvent this long-held process or remove safe ingredients from the marketplace.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) develops the rules and regulations for the production, handling, labeling and enforcement of all USDA-certified organic products through its National Organic Program. As part of the program, the AMS maintains the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, which provides information on the synthetic and natural substances that may or may not be used in organic crop and livestock production. An AMS advisory board reviews every substance on the list every five years to confirm they still meet the USDA’s organic criteria, and from time to time, the board also reviews citizen petitions to add or remove substances from this list.

AFIA has been actively involved in providing technical expertise to the AMS as changes to its national list are proposed. In particular, the association has:

  • Advocated for synthetic substances to be maintained on the list when no naturally occurring alternative substance exists and when the substance is needed for proper animal nutrition;
  • Called for feed ingredients to be removed from the list when they have not been approved through the proper regulatory channels for use in U.S. feed or pet food;
  • Clarified health or production claims that are permitted or barred for use on feed or pet food labels due to other federal laws; and
  • Provided feedback to the agency when proposed changes fall outside of its regulatory purview.

The association maintains that certified organic ingredients are neither safer nor better for human or animal health than their conventional or biotech counterparts. AFIA continues to advocate for the safe use of all production methods and technologies as part of the animal agriculture industry’s commitment to feeding the world’s growing population.