The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (USDA’s NOP) has updated the Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) final rule, which relates to the oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic products. Updates to the SOE final rule are intended to mitigate the fraudulent sale of food using the USDA organic seal.

The SOE final rule implements 2018 Farm Bill mandates, responds to industry requests for updates to the USDA organic regulations, and addresses National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommendations. The goal of the SOE final rule is to support strong organic control systems, improve farm-to-market traceability, increase import oversight authority, and provide robust enforcement of organic regulations. Key updates to SOE 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.
  • Specify certification requirements for producer groups.

Organic operations, certifying agents, and other organic stakeholders affected by the rule will have one year from the effective date of the rule to comply with the changes.