Posted on July 9, 2020 by Sustainable Food News

USDA’s intent over fees in new organic rules ‘unclear’ says trade group

Nat'l Organic Program releases draft proposed rule on organic enforcement

The USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) has published a draft version of the Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) proposed rule, which is aimed at boosting the integrity of the global organic market.

The agency said the 124-page draft version is subject to changes prior to the proposed rule being published in the Federal Register, for which the NOP did not provide a date.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) said in a statement that the SOE is the NOP’s largest single piece of rulemaking and “will fundamentally transform the oversight and enforcement of organic production worldwide.”

The Washington, D.C.-based trade group also said it does have a concern over some of the language in the draft, specifically, “the intent of USDA’s consideration of user fees and the proposed amendment to revise accreditation fees is unclear and inadequately explained.”

The proposed rule also proposes amending two sections of the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA) — 205.100 and 205.662 — to clarify that a person who is responsibly connected to an operation that violates the OFPA or the USDA organic regulations may be subject to a suspension of certification, if the responsibly connected person is certified, or civil penalties or criminal charges and/or may be ineligible to receive certification.

“This will bolster the enforcement capacity of AMS by ensuring that penalties for violations of the OFPA extend to all accountable parties,” the draft proposed rule reads.

Read the draft proposed rule here.

Check out the side-by-side comparison of current regulations and the draft proposed rule.

Read more about the SOE proposed rule here.

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