South-Western Legal Studies in Business

Portions of Regulation Inconsistent with Intent of Congress Stricken
Description Appeals court held that parts of a regulation governing the marketing of organic foods violated the standards set by Congress in a statute governing organic foods. Due to the inconsistency, those regulations would be stricken and not be allowed to go into force.
Topic Administrative Law
Key Words Regulation; Statute; Interpretation; Organic Food
C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) in 1990 to set national standards for organic foods. The Act ordered the Secretary of Agriculture to issue regulations to implement the Act. A final rule was published in 2000 and became effective in 2002. Harvey, an organic food producer, objected to the rule, contending that it was inconsistent with the Act because it weakened the integrity of the organic program set forth in the OFPA. The district court dismissed most of his complaints; he appealed.

Affirmed in part; reversed in part. Certain parts of the rule are invalid as they are inconsistent with the OFPA. The portion of the regulation that provides that synthetic substances may be used in processed organic foods, and that listed 38 substances specifically, are invalid as they violate the section of the OFPA providing that certified handling operations of organic products may not add synthetic ingredients during processing or handling. Similarly, the rule allowing diary animals being converted to organic production to be fed 80% organic food for nine months prior to the sale of their products as organic violates the OFPA standard that they must be fed 100% organic food for twelve months prior to the sale of their products as organic. Other portions of the rule are consistent with the intent of Congress.

Citation Harvey v. Veneman, 396 F.3d 28 (1st Cir., 2005)

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