The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) published the Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) Final Rule on January 19, 2023. This rule is the single biggest update to the NOP regulations since their original publication, and it is an important step toward tackling fraud in organic supply chains by increasing market traceability and strengthening enforcement of regulations. The end goals of SOE are to improve farmer and consumer confidence in the USDA organic seal and protect organic integrity.
Operations and certifying agents must comply with these new rules by March 19, 2024.
The SOE Rule amends the National Organic Standards to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products. One significant area is the removal of activities and producers that were previously considered exempt from certification.
The SOE Ruling includes the following topics:
- Applicability and exemptions from organic certification.
- Imports to the United States.
- Recordkeeping, product traceability and fraud prevention requirements.
- Labeling of non-retail containers.
- Standardized certificates of organic operations and data reporting.
- On-site and unannounced inspections of certified operations.
- Calculating organic content of multi-ingredient products.
- Compliance and appeals.
- Certification of producer group operations in the United States.
- Certifying agent personnel qualifications and training.
- Foreign conformity assessment systems.
Details and additional resources for the rule can be found on the NOP website here: ams.usda.gov/rules-regulations/strengthening-organic-enforcement.
NOFA-NY will make efforts to inform producers of the changes to the regulations, both on our website as well as other notices and publications ahead of the March 19, 2024, implementation date. You’ll see new questions in your 2024 Organic System Plan (OSP) materials and supplements, as well as new items that will be verified at inspections.