Send Your Comment: Strengthen Enforcement of the Organic Standards

Author(s): 
Chrys Ostrander

Poor enforcement of the National Organic Standards by USDA, especially having to do with bulk grain imports, and widely reported on in the media, has led to a critical level of consumer distrust in the National Organic Program (USDA Organic).  Now USDA has published a proposed rule to address this crisis and a public comment period is open.

See these two articles for background:

USDA Enforcement Failures Lead to Fake Organic Imports

and 

USDA Offers Sneak Peek of Proposed Rule to Address Organic Fraud

Lax enforcement hurts compliant organic producers by diminishing the trust of their consumers and by having fraudulent products sold on the market in place of their compliant products. It hurts consumers by potentially exposing them to pesticide residues from foods they believe to be organic but are not.

"US organic grain farmers have suffered in the face of prolonged USDA inaction, falling victim to the mounting crisis of cheap, fraudulent organic grain pouring into the country from overseas. Agronomists have estimated that one bulk cargo ship of grain may be equal to the annual production of 50 to 80 US certified organic farms. Many producers have become disenchanted, telling Cornucopia that they are competing in what feels like a rigged market, and despondent about what they perceive as the passive attitude of government regulators." --Cornucopia Institute

Organic farmers and organic farming support organizations have succeeded in a years-long effort to get USDA to confront the fraud issue and now the USDA has published a proposed rule "to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products." Some of these organizations include the Organic Farmers Association, the Organic Trade Association, the National Organic Coalition, among others.

A public comment period on the proposed rule is now open. The comment period closes at 11:59 pm Eastern on October 5, 2020.

Please consider writing a comment in support of the proposed rule. The National Organic Coalition has information and "talking points" that make it easy for you to draft your own informed comment in support of greater enforcement of the organic standards. National Organic Coalition talking points.

 

Edition: 
September, 2020