Aug 4, 2020
Organic fraud-fighting program endorsed by USDA
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has recognized the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions as an example of an effective private initiative to prevent fraud in the organic supply chain.
In the department’s Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) Proposed Rule, which will be published Wednesday in the Federal Register, USDA noted “private initiatives in the organic sector to develop best practices for organic operations to detect and prevent organic fraud” and said, “a good example [of those initiatives] is the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions project.” USDA continued that “these best practices will provide organic operations with practical tools to assess, monitor, and mitigate organic fraud risks within their organic supply chains.”
“The Organic Trade Association applauds USDA’s and the National Organic Program’s commitment to the integrity of organic, and we thank them for their important endorsement of our Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “Protecting the integrity of organic requires the efforts of all organic stakeholders, both public and private. This historic rulemaking by USDA will do much to protect organic from fraud through tougher enforcement and oversight, as our program helps organic companies put into place on-the-ground systems to deter and prevent fraud.”
The USDA’s proposed rule also requires that an organic fraud prevention plan be included in a certified organic operation’s Organic System Plan. Certified operations will be required to develop an organic fraud prevention plan to describe how they are preventing fraud and verifying suppliers. The Organic Trade Association applauds this requirement and its alignment with the association’s initiative.
“A key to implementing meaningful organic fraud prevention measures is conducting a vulnerability assessment because any fraud prevention measures are effective only if they are applied in the right places,” said Gwendolyn Wyard, Vice President of Regulatory & Technical Affairs for the Organic Trade Association and staff coordinator for the Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions. “This gets to the heart of our program. This is where we can help companies be ready to comply with the USDA’s new rules.”
The association’s fraud prevention program is designed specifically to meet the unique needs of the organic supply chain and is based on buyer responsibility and supplier verification. Fifty-five organic businesses have enrolled in the Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions, and have been using the association’s Organic Fraud Prevention Guide to prepare for the training and help detect and deter fraud. A Participant Handbook developed for interested and enrolled companies provides an overview of the program, and the steps required to enroll and succeed.
A key component of the trade association’s program, an online training course that provides detailed background and instruction on how to carry out an organic fraud vulnerability assessment, and how to implement an effective organic fraud prevention plan, went live in the spring. The course, “Developing and Implementing an Organic Fraud Prevention Plan,” was developed in partnership with Michigan State University. The 4-hour course is offered through the Food Fraud Prevention Academy and its Massive Open Online Courses for Food Fraud (MOOC).
Organic companies wanting to protect against fraud in the organic supply chain can sign up now for the Organic Trade Association’s Fraud Prevention Solutions, and be a part of this far-reaching effort to maintain integrity in organic.
The Organic Trade Association is working with its diverse member task force to shape its comments on the proposed rulemaking in advance of the Oct. 5 public comment deadline.