The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a rule to increase regulations and transparency on products labeled organic on Thursday. File Photo courtesy of Cal-Organic/Grimmway Farms
Jan. 19 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a rule to increase regulations and transparency on products labeled "organic" on Thursday.
The Strengthening Organic Enforcement final rule will implement mandates introduced by Congress in 2018, a press release by the USDA said.
The final rule puts more organic producers under oversight, requires all imports to be certified and creates a clearer chain of authority.
"The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule is the biggest update to the organic regulations since the original Act in 1990, providing a significant increase in oversight and enforcement authority to reinforce the trust of consumers, farmers, and those transitioning to organic production," said Jenny Lester Moffitt, under secretary of marketing and regulatory programs.
"This success is another demonstration that USDA fully stands behind the organic brand," she said.
The organic food market has increased substantially in recent decades. In 2020, 39% of U.S. consumers purchased organic meat and 46% purchased organic dairy, according to data from Statista. In 2021, the organic industry generated more than $57 billion.
For products to be considered organic, they must be produced following specific guidelines laid out by the USDA's National Organic Program. Most synthetic pesticides, as well as many herbicides, are not to be used. If a banned substance was applied to soil within the last three years, produce cannot be certified.
For livestock, rules state animals must be raised in an environment that allows them to act as they would naturally, and their food source must be organic.
The SOE rule will take effect on March 23. Producers of organic foods will have one year to meet the standards of the new regulations.