NOP actions underway on audit regarding trade

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) and the National Organic Program (NOP) have released a summary report on and audit of USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s controls over the approval and oversight of NOP’s international trade arrangements and agreements. Specifically, OIG reviewed the process used in determining whether exporting countries’ organic standards are equivalent to USDA’s organic standards, and imported organic product are compliant with USDA’s organic standards. The audit led to nine key findings and recommendations. Overall, the OIG recommends documenting the resolution of organic standard variances and obtaining assistance from outside agencies for reviewing and verifying NOP required import documents, as well as identifying and tracking treated imported organic products. The OIG audit further supports the Organic Trade Association’s position that additional trade oversight and monitoring are needed to protect organic integrity here and around the world. OTA is encouraged to see NOP respond to the audit findings with several potential actions, including a better partnership with Customs and Border Protection to ensure organic certification paperwork is more closely examined at U.S. ports of Entry. While further action by NOP can help insure supply chain integrity, industry plays a key role in protecting organic. The Organic Trade Association’s Global Organic Supply Chain Integrity Task Force is developing a guide for the private sector to do just that. View a summary of that task force and guide. Additionally, the Organic Trade Association is pursuing legislative changes in the next farm bill to give NOP the tools it needs to prevent fraud by modernizing import certificates to move to an electronic tracking system and limiting operations that are currently excluded from certification. For questions about the report, contact Monique Marez. For more information about the task force, contact Gwendolyn Wyard.

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