Industry News

Implementation of the New USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) rule will take effect March 19

February 12, 2024

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has recently made significant amendments to its organic regulations, specifically targeting 7 CFR part 205, with the aim of fortifying oversight of the production, handling, certification, marketing, and sale of organic agricultural products. These changes, mandated by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), are set to enhance organic integrity throughout the supply chain, benefiting stakeholders across the organic industry. By addressing gaps in current regulations, these amendments strive to establish consistent certification practices to deter and detect organic fraud, while simultaneously enhancing transparency and product traceability. Importantly, these measures seek to reassure consumers of the robust and consistent standard upheld by the USDA organic label.

The necessity for these regulatory adjustments stems from the evolving landscape of the organic market, characterized by its exponential growth and increasingly complex supply chains. With organic products traversing long, often global, supply chains before reaching consumers, there arises the risk of mishandling and fraudulent activities, particularly among uncertified entities operating outside USDA oversight. The amendments put forth in this rulemaking endeavor to mitigate such risks, safeguarding the integrity of organic products and maintaining consumer trust in the USDA organic label.

Key actions mandated by the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 include the reduction of uncertified entities within the organic supply chain, the requirement of NOP Import Certificates for all organic imports into the United States, and the clarification of the NOP's authority to oversee certification activities. These measures, alongside additional provisions aimed at strengthening enforcement of USDA organic regulations, underscore the USDA's commitment to upholding the integrity of the organic industry. As these regulatory changes take effect, entities engaged in the organic industry, including producers, handlers, importers, certifying agents, and retailers, are poised to be actively affected, emphasizing the broader impact of these amendments across the organic sector.

For more information, visit U.S. Department of Agriculture: Strengthening Organic Enforcement