USDA Recognizes OTA’s Fraud Prevention Solutions

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Washington, D.C.—USDA has recognized the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions as an example of an effective private initiative for preventing fraud, according to a press release from OTA.

The press release quotes USDA’s Strengthening Organic Enforcement Proposed Rule, in which USDA wrote: “Private initiatives in the organic sector to develop best practices for organic operations to detect and prevent organic fraud,” and expounded: “a good example [of those initiatives] is the Organic Trade Association’s Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions project…these best practices will provide organic operations with practical tools to assess, monitor, and mitigate organic fraud risks within their organic supply chains.”

“The Organic Trade Association applauds USDA’s and the National Organic Program’s commitment to the integrity of organic, and we thank them for their important endorsement of our Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of OTA, in the press release. “Protecting the integrity of organic requires the efforts of all organic stakeholders, both public and private. This historic rulemaking by USDA will do much to protect organic from fraud through tougher enforcement and oversight, as our program helps organic companies put into place on-the-ground systems to deter and prevent fraud.”

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OTA’s program is designed to meet the unique needs of the organic supply chain, the press release says, and is based on buyer responsibility and supplier verification. Fifty-five organic businesses have enrolled in the Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions, and have been using the Organic Fraud Prevention Guide to prepare for the training and help detect and deter fraud. One key component of the program: An online training course that provides instruction on how to carry out an organic fraud vulnerability assessment and implement an effective fraud prevention plan. The course, “Developing and Implementing an Organic Fraud Prevention Plan,” went live this spring. It was developed in partnership with Michigan State University, and is offered through the Food Fraud Prevention Academy and its Massive Open Online Courses for Food Fraud.

“A key to implementing meaningful organic fraud prevention measures is conducting a vulnerability assessment because any fraud prevention measures are effective only if they are applied in the right places,” said Gwendolyn Wyard, Vice President of Regulatory & Technical Affairs for the Organic Trade Association and staff coordinator for the Organic Fraud Prevention Solutions. “This gets to the heart of our program. This is where we can help companies be ready to comply with the USDA’s new rules.”

The press release notes that the USDA’s proposed rule requires that an organic fraud prevention plan be included in a certified organic operation’s Organic System Plan.

The SOE proposed rule will be live in the federal register on Wednesday.

Organic companies can enroll in OTA’s Fraud Prevention Solutions here.

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