Global Agriculture

New USDA Rule Boosts Organic Integrity

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19 January 2023, Washington: In a major victory for organic farmers and consumers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today finalized its Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule, aimed at ensuring the integrity of the organic supply chain and stamping out fraud.

“The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule is the biggest update to the organic regulations since the original Act in 1990,” said Jaydee Hanson, Policy Director at Center for Food Safety. Today’s updated rule, he added, “significantly increases the oversight and enforcement authority of the agency over the organic brand. This will help regain the trust of consumers, organic farmers, and those transitioning their operations to organic production.”

As the USDA stated in the Federal Register, the amendments “protect integrity in the organic supply chain and build consumer and industry trust in the USDA organic label by strengthening organic control systems, improving farm to market traceability, and providing robust enforcement of the USDA organic regulations.”

For 25 years, Center for Food Safety has been working to maintain and enhance strong organic standards that live up to the quality and integrity that consumers expect from organic products through legal actions, policy initiatives, and public education. To give just a few recent examples, in 2022, after six years of advocacy and litigation, Center for Food Safety helped persuade USDA to reinstate the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, ensuring that animal welfare is maintained in organic animal farming. In 2021, CFS and other groups sued to prevent USDA from certifying soil-less hydroponics operations as “organic,” to protect the integrity of organic farming’s beneficial soil practices. And legal action by CFS in 2016 persuaded a federal court to toss out a USDA loophole that would have allowed pesticide-contaminated compost in organic farming.

The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule, first proposed in 2020, goes into effect March 20 of this year and will be fully implemented by March 19, 2024, according to the USDA.

Organic farmers and a wide range of advocates have supported the Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule as a key measure to ensure the organic farming supply chain’s integrity and stamp out organic fraud.

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