Aug 5, 2020
Comments start on proposed tougher organic enforcement
Stephen Kloosterman

Greg Ibach
Greg Ibach
Photo: USDA

Your comments are welcomed.

The USDA National Organic Program’s (NOP) Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) proposed rule published in the Federal Register on Aug. 5. The publishing kicks off a two-month public comment period that’s part of the government’s formal rulemaking process.

The proposed rule significantly updates the USDA organic regulations to strengthen oversight and enforcement throughout the organic supply chain, according to an email newsletter from the Department of Agriculture. A series of infographics explaining the rule has been posted online.

Public review and comment are encouraged.

“Organic agriculture is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the food market,” USDA Undersecretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Greg Ibach said in the email newsletter. “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.”

According to a news release, the revised regulations would:

  • 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, according to the news release. 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 and will be considered by USDA as it develops the final rule.

The deadline for public comment is 11:59 p.m. EST October 5, 2020.

Stephen Kloosterman is the managing editor of Organic Grower.

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