March 19, 2010
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) welcomes ongoing steps by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administrators to strengthen the National Organic Program (NOP) following the release of the USDA’s Office of Inspector General audit report outlining the need for improved measures to ensure the integrity of organic agricultural products sold in the United States.
“The value of the organic label rests on the value of certification. The organic industry agrees that it is important that consumers get the benefits that come with organic practices when they buy organic products. We are encouraged by the actions being taken within the National Organic Program to address these findings,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director.
The General Oversight of the National Organic Program audit report publicly released yesterday (http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/01601-03-HY.pdf) by the USDA’s Office of Inspector General made seven key findings and outlined 14 recommendations for action by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), of which NOP is a part. In response, AMS has outlined the steps it is taking—or has taken—to address the concerns raised.
In the fall of 2009, OTA and its members identified compliance and enforcement, as well as accreditation and training of certifying agencies, among the priorities for regulatory oversight of organic agricultural products. OTA is encouraged to see that these priorities were reflected in the audit report, and in the agency’s response to the report’s findings.