Jan. 20, 2023 -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture has amended its rules to increase oversight and enforcement of the production and sale of organic products in an effort to reduce “organic fraud.”

Organic fraud is the representation, labeling, and sale of nonorganic agricultural products as organic, the Federal Register said. It can happen because of high demand for organic products and lack of direct enforcement of USDA rules. 

“These amendments close gaps in the current regulations to build consistent certification practices to deter and detect organic fraud, and improve transparency and product traceability,” said an executive summary of the amended rules in the Federal Register. “In addition, the amendments will assure consumers that organic products meet a robust, consistent standard and reinforce the value of the organic label.”

The Strengthening Organic Enforcement Rule will require certification of more business such as brokers and traders, require organic identification on nonretail containers, allow more rigorous on-site inspection of certified organic operations, and establish more uniform training standards for organic inspectors, a USDA news release said

The update goes into effect March 20. The rule may affect USDA-accredited certifying agents, organic inspectors, certified organic operations, operations considering organic certification, businesses that import or trade organic products, and retailers that sell organic products.

This is the biggest update to the organic regulations since the original act in 1990, Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said. 

The Organic Trade Association lobbied for the rule. 

“Fraud in the organic system – wherever it occurs – harms the entire organic sector and shakes the trust of consumers in organic,” the OTA said in a news release.

Show Sources

SOURCES: 

Federal Register: “National Organic Program (NOP); Strengthening Organic Enforcement.”

USDA: "USDA Publishes Strengthening Organic Enforcement Final Rule.”

Organic Trade Association: “Organic Trade Association statement on USDA's Strengthening Organic Enforcement final rule.”

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