According to The Counter, the USDA has announced some proposed changes to the organic laws which will have an effect on on the $55 billion dollar organic industry. The new rules include surprise inspections, traceability and updated labeling requirements to include non-retail packaging.
This announcement comes after last year’s organic fraud case which involved $142 million dollars in sales of fraudulent organic feed and resulted in the suicide death of the defendant in the case. With the organic seal allowing for premium pricing in the marketplace, it is not a surprise that people would attempt to exploit this and fraudulently represent their products. It is good that the USDA is working to maintain the integrity of the standard. That said, the flip side is that this will create additional burden for the many small farmers and suppliers that struggle already with the rigorous laws surrounding being certified.
The USDA proposed amendment
“…are intended to protect integrity in the organic supply chain and build consumer and industry trust in the USDA organic label by strengthening organic control systems, improving farm to market traceability, and providing robust enforcement of the USDA organic regulations.”
Certainly we would not want to drive organic farmers out of the marketplace due to overly burdensome regulations. Yet, the label does need to be reliable and consumers have to trust in it or it is worthless. It is a difficult balance to achieve and something for us all to keep an eye on going forward.