Strengthening Organic Enforcement Proposed Rule - Comment Period Begins Soon

The Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) Proposed Rule was pre-published as an unofficial draft on the U.S. Department of Agriculture web site. The proposed rule is expected to publish in the Federal Register “soon.” At that point, a short 60-day comment period will begin.

For more information regarding the effects of this proposed rule, read the Organic Trade Association statement on USDA’s Strengthening Organic Enforcement Proposed Rule.

The proposed amendments are intended to protect integrity in the organic supply chain and build consumer and industry trust in the USDA organic label by strengthening organic control systems, improving farm to market traceability, and providing robust enforcement of the USDA organic regulations.

Topics addressed in this proposed rule include:

  • applicability of the regulations and exemptions from organic certification;
  • import certificates;
  • recordkeeping and product traceability;
  • certifying agent personnel qualifications and training;
  • standardized certificates of organic operation;
  • unannounced on-site inspections of certified operations;
  • oversight of certification activities;
  • foreign conformity assessment systems;
  • certification of grower group operations;
  • labeling of nonretail containers;
  • annual update requirements for certified operations;
  • compliance and appeals processes;
  • and calculating organic content of multi-ingredient products.

Submit Comments (Comment period opens when proposed rule publishes in the Federal Register):

We invite you to submit comments on the proposed rule by any of the following methods during the 60 day open comment period that begins (date TBD):

Federal eRulemaking Portal at You can access this proposed rule and instructions for submitting public comments by searching for document number, AMS-NOP-17-0065.

Comments submitted by mail or fax can be sent to the contact listed below.

Instructions: All comments received must include the docket number AMS-NOP-17-0065; NOP-17-02, and/or Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 0581-AD09 for this rulemaking. You should clearly indicate the topic and section number of this proposed rule to which your comment refers, state your position(s), offer any recommended language change(s), and include relevant information and data to support your position(s) (e.g., scientific, environmental, manufacturing, industry, or industry impact information, etc.). All comments and relevant background documents posted to will include any personal information provided.

In addition to the questions following each topic in the Overview of Proposed Amendments section of this proposed rule, AMS is requesting comments on the following general topics:

  1. The clarity of the proposed requirements. Can certified operations, handlers, and certifying agents readily determine how to comply with the proposed regulations?
  2. The implementation timeframe. AMS is proposing that all requirements in this proposed rule be implemented within ten months of the effective date of the final rule (this is also one year after publication of the final rule).
  3. The accuracy of the estimates in the Regulatory Impact Analysis and Regulatory Flexibility Analysis, which describe the expected costs of this proposed rule on all affected entities and on small businesses, respectively.
  4. Are there alternatives to regulations, or less stringent requirements, that could achieve the same objectives as this proposed rule?
  5. How will certifying agents cover the costs of additional actions required under this rule, such as the required unannounced inspections and the issuing of NOP Import Certificates? Will certifying agents charge fees that are consistent for expanded handlers, brokers, importers and exporters?


Jennifer Tucker, Ph.D.
Deputy Administrator, National Organic Program
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Room 2642-So., Ag Stop 0268
Washington, DC 20250-0268
Telephone: (202) 720-3252
Fax: (202) 260-9151

Supporting Documents

Related Events

  • Informational Webinar (July 8, 2020): Recording │ Slides (pdf) │Chat (pdf)