USDA to propose strengthening organic regulations
The Organic Trade Association welcomes USDA’s efforts to boost the integrity of the global organic market through its Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) Proposed Rule, soon to be published in the Federal Register.
The SOE Proposed Rule is the largest single piece of rulemaking since the implementation of the National Organic Program (NOP) regulations. It will fundamentally transform the oversight and enforcement of organic production worldwide.
The Organic Trade Association, on behalf of its members, has been in the driver’s seat with Congress in the 2018 Farm Bill debate leading up to this historic rulemaking. Several proposed requirements are the outcome of the Organic Trade Association’s priorities and successful legislative work in the 2018 Farm Bill, such as closing the loophole on uncertified handlers by requiring certification and mandating electronic certificates for all imports. In addition to its advocacy for the Farm Bill provisions, in November 2018, the Organic Trade Association submitted comments to the USDA on its top priorities for boosting the integrity of the global organic market, identifying 15 areas where improvements are needed to strengthen the global organic control system.
The Organic Trade Association supports strong public and private sector measures to protect against fraud, deepen transparency across the organic supply chain and ensure consumer confidence in the Organic seal. Alongside updates to the regulation, the trade association has recently launched a member-driven, industry-wide Fraud Prevention Solutions Program that organic businesses can enroll in to deter and eliminate organic fraud.
In an otherwise comprehensive rule that seeks to boost consumer confidence and support continued growth of the $55 billion organic sector, the intent of USDA’s consideration of user fees and the proposed amendment to revise accreditation fees is unclear and inadequately explained. The Organic Trade Association looks forward to engaging further with the department for a clearer understanding.