USDA to strengthen enforcement for products with ‘organic’ label

The USDA is making changes to what can be labeled as organic.
Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:22 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2023 at 6:38 PM EST
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JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (WCSC) - The USDA is making the biggest single revision to organic standards since they were published in 2000, according to Tom Chapman, CEO at the Organic Trade Association.

The new rules are aimed at preventing food fraud. Businesses will need to prove the entire farm-to-table process is organic. That means they can’t be produced with toxic pesticides, synthetic nitrogen fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones, or genetic engineering. The department will also increase enforcement.

Spade and Clover Farm on Johns Island owner John Warren said organic certification is all about keeping track of a crop at every stage.

“The organic certification is not a stretch for people that are good at record keeping,” Warren said.

Warren said certification is especially helpful for larger farms that sell to distributors. As a smaller producer, he let his certification lapse but kept the practices in place. Instead, he engages directly with consumers.

He said he can point out individual crops and tell consumers “precisely” what has happened in the field.

Nutrition specialist Dr. Ann Kulze said while organic produce is a little more expensive, it has benefits.

“It’s clearly going to be better for the environment,” Kulze said. “In terms of nutritional value, a little bit more nutritious in regards to phytochemicals and in regards to minerals versus conventional.

Kulze said her confidence is strengthened by the new rules, which will go into effect in March.