Jan 29, 2020
NOP awards four certifiers for investigating grain fraud cases

The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) Jan. 28 recognized a number of credentialed certifying agencies for upholding standards for organic agriculture, singling four out for investigative work.

The awards were presented at the annual NOP Certifier Training for organic inspectors from around the world, held in San Antonio, Texas, according to a USDA newsletter.

Director’s Award

NOP recognized four certifiers for exemplary work investigating significant grain fraud cases in 2018-2019.

“The quick, thorough work by staff at CCOF, QCS, One-Cert, and Oregon Tilth provided sound evidence to support timely enforcement actions that impact the entire supply chain,” NOP Enforcement Division Director Betsy Rakola said in the newsletter. “We appreciate these good people for helping USDA ensure consumers get what they pay for when they buy USDA Certified Organic products for their families.”

2020 Director’s Award winners are (listed by headquarters location):

Data Quality Award

Ten certifiers were recognized for the exceptional quality and timeliness of data provided to the Organic INTEGRITY Database, according to the newsletter.

“Better data deters fraud by making it faster for investigators to identify higher risk activities and focus additional enforcement resources,” said Jennifer Tucker, who heads the NOP. “Catching and punishing fraud quickly supports the high level of trust that farmers and consumers continue to demonstrate in the USDA Organic Seal.”

The federal organic regulations currently require the annual posting of a set of basic facts regarding certified operations into the USDA Organic INTEGRITY Database (OID). All USDA accredited certifiers met January 2, 2020, annual deadline for uploading required updates about the operations they certify. The OID also includes many optional fields, like acreage, that can aid in oversight and enforcement.

“The ten certifiers recognized today significantly exceeded the minimum requirements by supplying additional detail on their certified operations and submitting updates on a rolling basis throughout the year,” Tucker said in the newsletter. “The ready availability of robust data is also good for certified farms and ranches as the database becomes increasingly important as a resource for companies looking to buy certified organic ingredients.

““It is gratifying to see continued growth in the number of certifiers who voluntarily compete for these awards, significantly increasing the amount of quality data available to NOP staff and the growing list of our law enforcement partners.”

The third annual Investing in INTEGRITY Data Quality Award winners are (listed by headquarters location):

2019 Count of Certified Organic Operations

The number of certified organic operations worldwide grew to 44,896 in 2019, a 4.4% increase over 2018, according to the newsletter.

The net increase in U.S. certified operations was 763 for a total of 28,257.

The net number of non-U.S. certified operations was 16,639.

A complete list of certified organic farms and businesses is available on the USDA National Organic Program website: Organic INTEGRITY Database.

From the left (front row) are Sarah Reed of CCOF, Michell Lawson of YCDA, Janis Kieft of CDA, Jennifer Tucker of the NOP, Josie Quevedo of PAO, Sam Welch of OneCert, Fabiola Valdiva Canedo of IMOcert and April Crittenden CCOF. In the second row are Stephen Nix of Clemson, Brian Hulme of NJDA, Raoul Wertz of MOCA, Jodi Snyder of GOA and Adam Maxwell of QCS. Photo: USDA NOP

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