The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule codifies updates requested by industry, recommendations from National Organic Standards Board.

Victoria A.F. Camron, Digital content specialist

January 20, 2023

2 Min Read
USDA Organic certification seal

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will increase enforcement of organic products' production, handling and selling, the federal agency announced Thursday.

The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule implements mandates included in the 2018 Farm Bill; responds to industry-requested updates to organic regulations; and addresses recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board, according to a release from the USDA.

“Protecting and growing the organic sector and the trusted USDA organic seal is a key part of the USDA Food Systems Transformation initiative,” Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said in the statement. “The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule is the biggest update to the organic regulations since the original Act in 1990, providing a significant increase in oversight and enforcement authority to reinforce the trust of consumers, farmers, and those transitioning to organic production. This success is another demonstration that USDA fully stands behind the organic brand.”

After the rule goes into effect on March 19, 2024, more businesses in the supply chain will have to obtain organic certification. Additionally, all imported organic products will be required to have an import certificate from the National Organic Program, The Hill reported.

Also, nonretail containers in which organic products are shipped and stored will have to be labeled "to reduce the mishandling of organic products and support traceability," according to The Hill.

More details can be found at the Federal Register

Updates will close loopholes

The USDA's move tightens up loopholes in the organic standards through which non-organic ingredients infiltrated the organic supply chain, The Washington Post reported.

Organic Trade Association CEO Tom Chapman told the Post that "the updates represent 'the single largest revision to the organic standards since they were published in 1990.'" He added that the change "raises the bar to prevent bad actors at any point in the supply chain."

Read more: USDA officials said they were guarding against organic food fraud. Congress decided they need help.

New rule will level the playing field

Lily Hawkins, policy director for the Organic Farmers Association, told CNN via email that the Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule will level the playing field for organic producers.

“Stopping fraud in the organic market and enforcing USDA National Organic Program regulations has long been a top priority for organic farmers,” she wrote. " “This rule is a crucial step to protect organic producers and consumers who pay a premium for organic products.”

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About the Author(s)

Victoria A.F. Camron

Digital content specialist, New Hope Network

Victoria A.F. Camron was a freelance writer and editor contracted with New Hope Network from 2015 until April 2022, when she was hired as New Hope Network's digital content specialist—otherwise known as the web editor.

As she continues the work she has done for years—covering the natural products industry for and Natural Foods Merchandiser; writing up earnings calls and other corporate news; and curating roundups of trends and information for the website—she is thrilled to be an official part of the New Hope team. (She doesn't mind having paid holidays and vacations again, though!) Victoria also compiled and edited newsletters, and served as interim content director for Delicious Living in 2016.

Before working as a freelancer, she spent 17 years in community newspapers in Longmont, Colorado, and St. Charles and Wheaton, Illinois. Victoria is a Colorado native and a graduate of Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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