USDA to rule on labeling requirements for organic hops
Earlier this month, the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) Handling Committee recommended the continued use of non-organic hops in beer labeled organic by denying a petition by the American Organic Hop Grower Association (AOHGA) to remove hops from the National List of non-organic ingredients allowed in organic food (section 205.606). The decision is set to be voted on by the full board in late October.
Hops were first added to the National List by the NOSB in June 2007, when organic hops were primarily produced in Europe and New Zealand. Since then, the U.S. organic hop industry has made significant advances. Progressive, large-scale family farms in the Pacific Northwest and small, local growers across the country are now growing organic hops.
In an attempt to remove hops from the National List, the AOHGA submitted a petition to the USDA in December 2009, supported by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Anheuser-Busch, Lakefront Brewery, Seven Bridges Cooperative, and Hopunion LLC. The NOSB’s response in their recent recommendation states, “On the basis of written and public comment in response to this petition to remove, organic hops were deemed not to be available in the form, quantity, or quality to currently justify removal from 205.606. To do so would negatively impact the organic brewing industry.”