Dec 23, 2020
National Organic Program gets ‘very positive’ review
The USDA’s National Organic Program recently earned good marks in a formal peer review, according to a recent newsletter from the program administration.
The National Organic Program (NOP), which is part of the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, each year participates in an outside peer review of its operations to determine adherence to its statutory and internal requirements.
“During this remote assessment, NOP management consistently demonstrated their commitment to improvement to the Peer Review team,” according to the nine-page report.
The report recommended two “opportunities for improvement” or OFI’s, while three other OFI’s from 2019 also are in the process of being resolved. The peer review also noted eight “strengths” – for instance, high participation in the NOP’s Organic Integrity Learning Center, with 3,144 people enrolled.
NOP Deputy Administrator Jennifer Tucker wrote in the newsletter that staff has been working hard. Here is her letter in full:
“2020 has been an unusual year, and I am very proud of the way NOP staff and our certifiers continue to rise to unexpected challenges in positive and effective ways. As we approach December 31, 2020, NOP has never been stronger. Every day, we work to earn the trust that farmers and consumers continue to demonstrate in the USDA Organic Seal through their choices on the farm and at the grocery store.
“Additional funding over the last five years has allowed us to significantly increase the number of auditors and accreditors we have on staff. And, we’ve added additional experienced materials specialists, agricultural economists, compliance specialists, and livestock specialists who are all passionate about organic agriculture. Growing partnerships with other enforcement agencies continue to amplify our ability to reach everywhere organic grows across the country and around the world.
“There have been tough days and we are saddened by the loss of those no longer with us. I wish you peace as we honor the past and hold our loved ones close.
“I am very proud of our team, certifiers, partners and the organic community for coming through this past year with strength and resiliency. I remain optimistic about our shared future.
“We close by highlighting another very positive Peer Review. This is an important part of our commitment to continuous improvement, with independent external auditors reviewing our internal processes to ensure we continually strengthen our own quality management procedures.
“We wish you and your families a happy and safe holiday season.
Above, the Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building, Washington, D.C, on May 26, 2017. Photo: USDA/Lance Cheung