Aug 20, 2020
USDA highlights potential of stronger organic enforcement

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service is continuing to educate growers and others in the organic foods industry about the potential of its proposed rule, Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE).

The new rule was proposed earlier this month, and the USDA is taking public comments on it until Oct. 5, 2020, as part of the formal rulemaking process.

The USDA is currently halfway through a six-part series of newsletters highlighting changes the new rule would bring. Here are those updates so far, with links to the updates in full:

Part One: Fewer Exemptions

The current regulations exempt some types of businesses from organic certification. This creates gaps in the supply chain where it’s harder for certifiers and the NOP to monitor and enforce the rules. SOE will limit exemptions by requiring organic certification of all businesses that:

  • Buy, sell, or trade organic products; or
  • Facilitate or negotiate the purchase, sale or trade of organic products between buyers and sellers.

For more information on the Fewer Exemptions in SOE, read the full newsletter here.

Part Two: Mandatory Use of NOP Import Certificates

Organic imports help U.S.-based farmers and processors meet strong demand for organic products. Due to increasingly complex supply chains, organic imports can sometimes create challenges for ensuring regulatory enforcement and product traceability.

SOE requires an NOP organic import certificate for each shipment of organic products entering the United States. This will help the NOP and certifiers to confirm that imports comply with the USDA organic standards, facilitate targeted investigations, and increase reporting capabilities.

For more information on Mandatory Use of NOP Import Certificates in SOE, read the full newsletter here.

Part Three: Improved Recordkeeping and Fraud Prevention
for Certified Organic Farms and Businesses

Protecting the USDA organic seal is a shared responsibility that begins with organic farms and businesses across the supply chain. To support the trusted relationships and verifiable transactions the organic system is built on, SOE will improve recordkeeping requirements for certified organic operations.

For more information on Mandatory Use of NOP Import Certificates in SOE, read the full newsletter here.

Additional information is available at a USDA webpage for the SOE rule.

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