Process to advance organic standards moves forward

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has announced a “public listening session, with request for comment, regarding upcoming standards development activities, including feedback about specific recommendations received from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB)”. This comes as the result of years of advocacy by the Organic Trade Association (OTA) and Congress to create transparency around the organic rulemaking process. In response to the AMS announcement, the association issued the following comment:

“Organic is one of the most robustly regulated agricultural label claims out there,” says OTA CEO and executive director Laura Batcha, “but it’s the deep trust producers and consumers have in organic that make it truly special. When NOP allows critical recommendations to update the organic standards to languish for years – in some cases decades – that trust starts to erode. We are encouraged to see this process finally moving forward and urge USDA to act with expediency. We are also extremely grateful to our allies in Congress who co-sponsored the Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic (CIAO) Standards Act, bipartisan legislation to expedite the rulemaking process and ensure organic remains the most trusted claim on the market.”

The Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act represents the most significant assessment to date of USDA’s track record on advancing organic standards. The bill requires USDA to advance and implement recommendations from the organic industry in a timely manner and to ensure the continuous improvement of organic standards. It was introduced in the House in April 2021 by Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rodney Davis (R-IL), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Ron Kind (D-WI) and has over 20 cosponsors.

Details on the listening session and how to submit comments can be found on AMS’ website.

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