Organic Standards – Facts for Fancy Fruit

Organic Standards

On April 30th, 2021, significant legislation was introduced with bipartisan support in the House, impacting the future of the U.S. organic sector. The bill, titled, Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards provides a roadmap for organic through three main areas by:

  1. Clearing the backlog of recommendations, and requiring the USDA to issue an Organic Improvement Action Plan.
    1. The plan must include detailed timelines, prioritization, and implementation plans for dealing with each recommendation. If the agency decides not to implement a recommendation, it must tell the public why and submit a report to Congress detailing the reasons.
  2. Establishing a new framework for advancing future organic standards.
    1. Any bill that is supported by the majority of the the National Organic Standards Board requires USDA to issue a final rule implementing the recommendation within two years.
  3. Improving oversight and ensuring consistent enforcement.
    1. The bill requires USDA to report annually to Congress on whether accredited third-party certifiers have implemented new rules and guidance, and identify any inconsistencies found.

Organic is a voluntary regulatory program for farmers and businesses that choose to meet a strict federal standard and market their products under the USDA organic seal.

The bill was introduced by Reps. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.; Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; Chellie Pingree, D-Maine; Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif.; Dan Newhouse, R-Wash.; and Ron Kind, D-Wis.

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