“We appreciate the department’s intention to strengthenoversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products,” the groups said in comments submitted on the proposed regulation. “We believe the rule will yield greater integrity and reliability in the organic supply chain and will continue to build consumer and industry confidence in the USDA organic label.”
The rule, according to a news release, is the most significant update since the National Organic Program was established in 2002. The regulation intends to strengthen oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products. The rule will become effective one year after publication of the final rule by USDA.
The release said the comments from the associations were developed by a task force of industry stakeholders with extensive operations and experience across the organic supply chain.
The comments of PMA, United Fresh and Western Growers focused on four areas, according to the release. The group's comments:
- Proposed quick turnaround on approval and issuance of the import certificate. Over the long term, the groups recommend a risk-based approach to certificate issuance and more close integration with the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol Automated Commercial Environment electronic collection and reporting system;
- Stated the regulation needs to more clearly define requirements for handlers that are not exempt;
- Requested more information on supply chain traceability provisions; and
- Proposed regulations need to be clearer on the different uses of non-retail containers.