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Glossary

The following definitions are drawn from the final rule for the USDA's National Organic Program, administered by the Agricultural Marketing Service.

Act—The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, as amended (7 U.S.C. 6501 et seq.).

Certified Operation—A crop or livestock production, wild-crop harvesting or handling operation, or portion of such operation that is certified by an accredited certifying agent as utilizing a system of organic production or handling as described by the Act and the regulations in this part.

Certifying Agent—Any entity accredited by the Secretary as a certifying agent for the purpose of certifying a production or handling operation as a certified production or handling operation.

Crop Rotation—The practice of alternating the annual crops grown on a specific field in a planned pattern or sequence in successive crop years so that crops of the same species or family are not grown without interruption on the same field. Perennial cropping systems employ means such as alley cropping, intercropping, and hedgerows to introduce biological diversity in lieu of crop rotation.

Cultivation—Digging up or cutting the soil to prepare a seed bed; control weeds; aerate the soil; or work organic matter, crop residues, or fertilizers into the soil.

Cultural Methods—Methods used to enhance crop health and prevent weed, pest, or disease problems without the use of substances; examples include the selection of appropriate varieties and planting sites; proper timing and density of plantings; irrigation; and extending a growing season by manipulating the microclimate with green houses, cold frames, or wind breaks.

Excluded Methods—A variety of methods used to genetically modify organisms or influence their growth and development by means that are not possible under natural conditions or processes and are not considered compatible with organic production. Such methods include cell fusion, microencapsulation and macroencapsulation, and recombinant DNA technology (including gene deletion, gene doubling, introducing a foreign gene, and changing the positions of genes when achieved by recombinant DNA technology). Such methods do not include the use of traditional breeding, conjugation, fermentation, hybridization, in vitro fertilization, or tissue culture.

Handler—Any person engaged in the business of handling agricultural products, including producers who handle crops or livestock of their own production, except such term shall not include final retailers of agricultural products that do not process agricultural products.

Organic System Plan—A plan of management of an organic production or handling operation that has been agreed to by the producer or handler and the certifying agent and that includes written plans concerning all aspects of agricultural production or handling described in the Act and the regulations in subpart C of this part.

Organic Production—A production system that is managed in accordance with the Act and regulations in this part to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

Pasture—Land used for livestock grazing that is managed to provide feed value and maintain or improve soil, water, and vegetative resources.

Producer—A person who engages in the business of growing or producing food, fiber, feed, and other agricultural-based consumer products.

Wild Crop—Any plant or portion of a plant that is collected or harvested from a site that is not maintained under cultivation or other agricultural management.

Last updated: Friday, September 27, 2013

For more information contact: Catherine Greene

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