Jan 13, 2022
U.S. organic program meets several ‘opportunities for improvement’
Stephen Kloosterman

U.S. organics has made significant progress on self-improvement, according to documents from the program’s annual review.

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.

The group finished or closed five “opportunities for improvement,” or OFIs, identified the last couple of years, according to the report.

Only one new opportunity was identified in 2021. “NOP has the opportunity to improve its risk analysis matrix developed to document potential threats to the impartiality of the NOP’s operations and activities,” according to the report. A NOP draft document about risk management for impartiality was examined by the peer reviewers.

The NOP already has responded to the review, asking the National Organic Standards Board to get involved by facilitating “a public review and discussion” of “NOP policies and practices designed to minimize real or perceived threats to the impartiality of the NOP accreditation program.

“NOP requests that the NOSB review the impartiality safeguards and provide feedback through a public comment process to identify or clarify any potential conflicts of interest and mitigation strategies not covered,” according to the NOP’s response. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) is a Federal Advisory Board made up of 15 dedicated public volunteers appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture.

The annual peer review also found nine strengths, including strengthening organic standards and robust enforcement:

“NOP continues to expand its safeguarding of organic integrity through the increased use of risk-based oversight approaches, surveillance, and enforcement actions worldwide. All of which will increase the integrity and consistency in the organic marketplace,” according to the review.

Above, the Jamie L. Whitten Federal Building, Washington, D.C, on May 26, 2017. Photo: USDA/Lance Cheung

Stephen Kloosterman is the managing editor of Organic Grower.

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