USDA Organic? Doubtful, particularly if imported.

USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service  (AMS) continues it’s less than rigorous oversight of the National Organic Program (NOP) in the most recent (2017) audit in the area of international trade. Despite consumer assumptions, USDA does NOT directly inspect and certify but is responsible for oversight and enforcement of the NOP. Audit found lack of transparency,in establishing “equivalency”  programs, absence of required import documentation, and infrequent onsite audits.

This Dec 2017 Washington Post story does a good job of summarizing the situation:

  • As much as half or more of some organic commodities are imported, and in a September audit the Inspector General of the USDA revealed that bogus “organic” products from overseas could easily get into the U.S. undetected. It found lax enforcement of at U.S.  ports. The report followed an article in The Post revealing that millions of pounds of fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans had reached American ports. According to the inspector general: “The USDA “was unable to provide reasonable assurance that … required documents were reviewed at U.S. ports of entry to verify that imported agricultural products labeled as organic were from certified organic foreign farms.”

The last NOP audit in 2010 incredibly found no consequences for violations with up to 2-1/2 years going by with domestic ineligible products still being sold as Organic. Also the AMS had arbitrarily ignored the governing National Organic Act in not requiring ANY periodic residue testing as proof of the organic process.

More recently even the poorly-enforced animal welfare standards requiring pasturing and outdoor access were dropped