The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) recently issued a Final Rule to strengthen their oversight and enforcement in the production, handling, and sale of organic products in the United States. The Final Rule became effective March 20, 2023 and will be implemented March 19, 2024. The rule contains several key components and affects many stakeholders throughout the supply chain.
NOP Import Certificates will be required for any commodity imported into the United States that is being manifested, sold, marketed, or labeled organic. The Import Certificates are generated in the Organic Integrity Database by the certifying agent of the exporter and may be issued for a specific shipment, timeframe, or volume.
Most notably, the Final Rule states that “any operation that produces or handles organic agricultural products must be certified organic.” USDA Organics has defined handle to mean “to sell, process, or package agricultural products, including but not limited to trading, facilitating sale or trade on behalf of a seller or oneself, importing to the United States, exporting for sale in the United States, combining, aggregating, culling, conditioning, treating, packing, containerizing, repackaging, labeling, storing, receiving, or loading.” Parties, including importers, exporters, and any party who performs a function that meets USDA’s definition of “handle” must become certified.
The National Organic Program enforces the national standards for organically produced agricultural products sold in the United States. Resources regarding the program, including certification and import requirements, can be found here.