USDA Updates Guidelines for Organic Program
On January 18, 2023, the USDA published the final version of its Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) rules, significantly changing the regulation of organic products sold in the United States.
The new rules seek to strengthen supervision, traceability and enforcement of the production, handling and sale of organic products.
The regulations become effective on March 20, with organic growers, certifying agents, and other affected stakeholders needing full compliance by March 19, 2024.
What are the most important changes?
The SOE’s most impactful new rules are:
- Expanded certification requirements: The regulation establishes certification requirements for more businesses in the organic supply chain, such as brokers and traders, who play a crucial role in the trade of organic products.
- Organic import certificates: Import certificates are required for all imported organic products, increasing supervision and control of products entering the country.
- Increased authority for rigorous inspections: The regulation grants greater authority to carry out inspections of certified operations, which implies an expected increase in the frequency and rigor of inspections to ensure compliance with standards.
- Uniform training standards: For organic inspectors and certifying agent personnel, uniform training standards are established, ensuring that professionals responsible for verifying compliance with organic regulations have the appropriate knowledge and skills.
- Improved traceability and fraud prevention: This regulation introduces measures to improve the traceability of organic products and prevent fraud, which involves the establishment of more rigorous registration and record-keeping practices, as well as the adoption of more robust fraud prevention procedures.
Implications for growers and exporters in Latin America
Implementing these new regulations will create additional challenges and stricter requirements for Latin American growers and exporters seeking to enter the US organic market. However, it also offers opportunities to strengthen consumer confidence in organic products and improve competitiveness in this sector.
Growers and exporters must be aware of these changes and prepare to meet the new requirements. Organic sellers will need guidance and cash flow to improve their field operations and practices and to export their products to the United States.
Sources: USDA, Federal Register, Portal Frutícola