What you need to know about the Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) Rule

Ce qu'il faut savoir sur la règle relative au renforcement de l'application de la législation sur l'agriculture biologique (SOE)

The organic industry has seen rapid growth in recent years, with more and more consumers choosing organic products for their health and environmental benefits. However, this growth has also led to an increase in fraudulent activities, where non-organic products are sold as organic products. Not only are consumers deceived, but the integrity of the organic label is also undermined.

To address these issues, the SOE rule was put in place to ensure the integrity of organic products and maintain consumer trust. In this document, we'll cover what you need to know about the SOE rule, its main elements, and how it affects the entire organic industry.

Overview of the SOE rule

The SOE rule aims to strengthen USDA's monitoring and enforcement capabilities to ensure that all organic products meet the strict standards established by the National Organic Program (NOP). This rule expands on existing regulations and adds new requirements for certifying agents, certified operations, and importers.

Here are some of the main elements of the SOE rule:

  • Certifiers are now required to carry out annual inspections of at least 5% of their certified farms. This is to ensure that organic products are produced and handled according to NOP standards.
  • Certifying agents must now report annually to the USDA on all certified operations, including any significant noncompliance found during inspections. This will allow USDA to target its monitoring efforts where they are most needed.
  • Certified farms are required to keep documents attesting to their compliance with NOP standards for at least five years. This will help certifiers verify compliance and enable traceability in the event of a problem.
  • Importers are now required to provide documentation attesting to the organic integrity of their imported products, including certificates from the government agency of the exporting country or a USDA-accredited certifying agent. This measure will ensure that organic products imported into the United States meet the same standards as those produced domestically.

Overall, the SOE rule aims to strengthen oversight and enforcement of organic products throughout their supply chain, from production to sale. This will not only protect consumers, but also maintain a level playing field for all certified organic farms.

Impact on the organic industry

The state-owned enterprise rule has drawn both criticism and support from different players in the organic industry. Some consider it necessary to preserve the integrity and credibility of the organic label, while others consider it too restrictive for small certified farms.

One of the main concerns is the potential increase in costs for certifying agents and certified farms due to the additional requirements. Small farmers and producers could therefore find it more difficult to obtain or maintain organic certification, which would limit the diversity of products available on the market.

On the other hand, supporters of this rule believe that it will level the playing field for all certified organic farms and prevent fraud. This could strengthen consumer confidence in organic products and promote growth of the sector.

Conclusion

The Regulation on Strengthening the Enforcement of Organic Legislation (SOE) is an important step in ensuring the integrity of organic products and preserving consumer confidence. As consumers continue to demand more transparency and accountability from the food industry, the SOE rule will play a crucial role in upholding organic production standards. With its implementation, we can expect a stronger and more reliable organic industry in the years to come.