The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a final rule aimed at strengthening the oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic products.
The Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) rule is the biggest update to the organic regulations since the original Act in 1990, according to USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt.
Moffitt added that the rule will provide, “a significant increase in oversight and enforcement authority to reinforce the trust of consumers, farmers, and those transitioning to organic production.”
Key updates include:
- Requiring certification of more of the businesses, like brokers and traders, at critical links in organic supply chains.
- Requiring NOP Import Certificates for all organic imports.
- Requiring organic identification on nonretail containers.
- Increasing authority for more rigorous on-site inspections of certified operations.
- Requiring uniform qualification and training standards for organic inspectors and certifying agent personnel.
- Requiring standardized certificates of organic operation.
- Requiring additional and more frequent reporting of data on certified operations.
- Creating authority for more robust recordkeeping, traceability practices, and fraud prevention procedures.
- Specifying certification requirements for producer groups.
Who is affected?
Business that import or trade organic products may be affected by SOE, as well as USDA-accredited certifying agents, organic inspectors, certified organic operations, operations considering organic certification, and retailers that sell organic products.
To see if you are affected by SOE, you can read the full rule here.
When do the changes take effect?
The rule goes into effect on March 20, 2023, and stakeholders affected by the rule will have one year from the effective date of the rule – March 20, 2024 – to ensure full compliance with the changes.
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