USDA Floats Rule to Strengthen Organic Standards Enforcement

The rule would expand the National Organic Program's oversight and help curb organic fraud.

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WASHINGTON — On Aug. 5, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published in the Federal Register a new proposed rule to expand the National Organic Program’s (NOP) oversight and enforcement of the production, handling and sale of organic products.

USDA invites public comment on the Strengthening Organic Enforcement proposed rule through Oct. 5.

I Stock 904178564 (1)iStock“Organic agriculture is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the food market,” said Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach. “As the organic market has grown, organic supply chains have become more complex. Stronger market oversight is needed to protect farmers and consumers who choose the organic option.”

USDA is committed to supporting organic farmers and ranchers by developing clear standards and creating a level playing field. Once finalized, the revised regulations will:

  • Reduce the number of uncertified businesses in the organic supply chain.
  • Standardize organic certificates.
  • Require the use of import certificates for all imported organic products.
  • Increase the minimum number of unannounced inspections.
  • Increase inspector qualifications.
  • Strengthen fraud prevention procedures.  
  • Increase data reporting requirements to make it easier to identify and focus enforcement resources on higher-risk locations, activities and commodities.

The proposed regulation would implement new oversight authority provided in the 2018 Farm Bill. It includes recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board and the Office of Inspector General and draws from USDA’s experience in enforcing the organic regulations. USDA met with and discussed provisions of the proposed rule with all sectors of the industry and invites additional input during the 60-day public comment period. Comments must be submitted through www.regulations.gov and will be considered by USDA as it develops the final rule.

For more information, please see the AMS Strengthening Organic Enforcement webpage.

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