"The Future of Organic Food Is Taking Shape at the USDA — and Beyond"

"Plus, the EPA will study water pollution from CAFOs, the FDA takes on lead in baby food, and some families are waiting months for SNAP benefits."

"Over the past few years, as the U.S. organic market has surpassed $60 billion in sales, organic farmers, businesses, and advocates have been engaged in a heated debate about the strength and integrity of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Organic standards.

Now, the agency has finally started taking action to address some of the loopholes long pointed to by advocates. But it may be too little, too late for the growing number of groups pushing ahead with plans to expand the reach of a range of “add-on” labels that include stricter standards.

We have long seen reports of fraudulent organic grain flooding the market from overseas and driving down prices for U.S.-based producers. But last week, the USDA finalized a highly anticipated rule designed to address imports that increases unannounced inspections, increases record-keeping requirements, and requires supply chain audits for some operations.

“NOC applauds the USDA for their sustained work to bring this rule to completion,” Abby Youngblood, Executive Director at the National Organic Coalition (NOC), said in a press release. “Organic producers’ livelihoods depend on strong and consistent enforcement of organic regulations. For more than a decade, operations have been undercut by fraudulent products that have no business carrying the organic seal. NOC strongly supports provisions in this rule that will give USDA and certification agencies more authority to crack down on bad actors.” The Organic Farmers Association and Organic Trade Association also celebrated the announcement."

Lisa Held reports for Civil Eats January 25, 2023.

Source: Civil Eats, 01/30/2023