History of OMRI
Founded in 1997, the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization providing organic certifiers, growers, manufacturers, and suppliers an independent review of products intended for use in certified organic production, handling, and processing. OMRI reviews input products to determine compliance with the National Organic Standards. Inputs include products such as fertilizers and pest control products for crop production, livestock feed ingredients and health care products, processing aids and sanitizers, and other materials intended for use in organic production. Compliant products are OMRI Listed® and appear on the OMRI Products List©. OMRI also provides subscribers and certifiers guidance and training on the acceptability of material inputs in general under organic standards.
OMRI’s mission is to provide professional, independent, and transparent review of materials and processes to determine their suitability for producing, processing and handling organic food and fiber.
OMRI was founded in 1997 to evaluate materials for use in organic agriculture. At that time, there were more than 40 certifiers who were performing organic certification using various state and private standards.
Following passage of the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, inputs were initially evaluated under a program developed by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), in cooperation with Oregon Tilth Certified Organic (OTCO), the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and the Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA). These groups viewed the development of a single resource specializing in input review and materials evaluation as an important step towards implementing a uniform standard. The Northeast Organic Farmers Association of New Jersey and Florida Organic Growers were among the first certifiers to become subscribers to OMRI.
OMRI began operation in June 1997 with financial backing from CCOF, OTCO, OCIA, OTA, the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), the Association for Regional Agriculture Building Local Economy, Newman’s Own Organics, Whole Foods Market, Smuckers Quality Beverages, and the Humane Society of the United States, as well as many smaller donors.
OMRI used recommendations from an Advisory Council of subject matter experts in organic farming, industry, academia, and the public arena to publish the first OMRI Generic Materials List© in 1998. Once the standards and policies had been established, OMRI began accepting applications to review products. OMRI reviewed the first OMRI Listed® products, and the first OMRI Products List© (formerly known as the OMRI Brand Name Products List) was published in March of 1998.
The National Organic Standards (NOS) were published in 2000 in the Federal Register at 7 CFR part 205 and were implemented in October 2002. Today, the NOS form the foundation of OMRI’s standards.
OMRI produced Technical Advisory Panel (TAP) reports for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) from 1999 until 2002. In 2008, OMRI received ISO 65 accreditation from the USDA, and the National Organic Program (NOP) officially permitted certifiers to contract with OMRI for material review. In 2010 the OMRI Products List attained 2000 products listed for use in organic production, handling and processing.
The current staff of OMRI consists of management, program staff, administrative staff, and technical support. OMRI is governed by a Board of Directors and supported by an Advisory Council, Review Panels (for crops, livestock and processing), and contractors.
The OMRI Board of Directors represents a wide variety of stakeholders from the organic industry, including certifiers, suppliers, farmers, processors, and consumer and public interest group representatives. The Organic Trade Association may nominate an individual to serve on the OMRI board, and a representative of the National Organic Program may serve as an ex officio member.