USDA enhances organic enforcement with new ruleUSDA enhances organic enforcement with new rule
The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule codifies updates requested by industry, recommendations from National Organic Standards Board.
January 20, 2023
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
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."
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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