STRENGTHENING ORGANIC ENFORCEMENT (SOE) FINAL RULE PUBLISHED
Initially announced in early 2020, the USDA’s new Strengthening Organic Enforcement Final Rule has been published with an effective date of March 20, 2023. The Rule has a one year implementation period which means operations will have until March 19, 2024 to become compliant with the rule.
What is SOE?
Strengthening Organic Enforcement, or SOE, is a rule amending the USDA organic regulations with the purpose of strengthening oversight and enforcement of the production, handling, and sale of organic agricultural products. It is the largest single update to the USDA organic regulation since its creation in 2002. The SOE is intended to reduce fraud in the organic marketplace, strengthen oversight of organic producers, handlers, and certifiers; and improves USDA’s enforcement mechanisms.
What Does SOE Do in a Nutshell?
The SOE rule protects organic integrity and bolsters consumer confidence in the USDA organic seal.
The final SOE rule:
- Reduces the number of uncertified entities in the organic supply chain.
- Requires use of electronic import certificates.
- Strengthens recordkeeping and supply chain traceability.
- Clarifies Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) authority to oversee and enforce organic trade.
- Strengthens oversight of accredited certifying agents
Who is Impacted by SOE?
Currently Certified Organic Operations
Any operators that have a physical presence in the USA as well as those that export organic products or ingredients into the USA will be impacted to some degree,
Uncertified Brokers, Traders, Brand Owners, Importers and Exporters
SOE reduces the number of uncertified entities in the organic supply chain and puts an emphasis on registration over exemption. If you are involved in the organic supply chain, do business in or with the USA, and you are not yet certified, then you will be impacted. While some exemptions to certification exist, the USDA is indicating an emphasis on voluntary certification for these operators.
If you are interested in certification, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Where can I find more information on SOE?
In addition to copies of the Final Rule itself, the USDA has also provided a host of other informative tools on the Strengthening Organic Enforcement webpage. These include a Fact Sheet as well as a comprehensive side by side comparison. In considering the preamble of the Final Rule is an important tool in understanding the reasons and expectations related to the new changes in the Rule.
The new requirements have also been fully incorporated into the National Organic Program rules online.
After you’ve reviewed the materials, please feel free to contact our office – The Pro-Cert Team is also here to assist you!