A proposed rule will revise U.S. Department of Agriculture organic regulations to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products, according to the agency.
The rule, The Strengthening Organic Enforcement Rule, has elements that will upgrade organic control systems, heighten oversight of imports and improve traceability, according to the USDA
The rule, according to the agency, addresses:
- Applicability of the regulations and exemptions from organic certification;
- Import certificates;
- Recordkeeping and product traceability;
- Certifying agent personnel qualifications and training;
- Unannounced on-site inspections of certified operations;
- Labeling of non-retail containers;
- Annual update requirements for certified operations; and
- Compliance and appeals processes.
The proposed rule will have a 60-day comment period at regulations.gov when it is published in the Federal Register.
The Organic Trade Association released a statement that welcomed the proposed rule.
“The Strengthening Organic Enforcement Proposed Rule is the largest single piece of rulemaking since the implementation of the National Organic Program regulations,” the statement said. “It will fundamentally transform the oversight and enforcement of organic production worldwide.”
However, the OTA said it had some concerns about the proposal.
“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 statement said.