Last week, USDA National Organic Program (NOP) published the Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) final rule, which “amends the USDA organic regulations to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products.” According to their press release, key updates include:
- Requiring certification of 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.
- Requires standardized certificates of organic operation.
- Requires additional and more frequent reporting of data on certified operations.
- Creates authority for more robust recordkeeping, traceability practices, and fraud prevention procedures.
- Specify certification requirements for producer groups.
Who is Impacted?
Affected entities may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Individuals or business entities considering organic certification.
- Existing production and handling operations currently certified organic under the USDA organic regulations.
- Brokers, traders, and importers of organic products not currently certified under the USDA organic regulations.
- Operations that use non-retail containers for shipping or storing organic products.
- Retailers that sell organic products.
- Operations that receive or review certificates of organic operation to verify compliance with USDA organic regulations.
- USDA-accredited certifying agents, inspectors, and certification review personnel.
- Operations that import organic products into the United States.
- Operations that export organic products to the United States and the corresponding certifying agents.
Important Dates to Note:
- Effective date – March 20, 2023
- Implementation date – March 19, 2024
Click here for the USDA’s SOE fact sheet.
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