USDA To Hold Public Listening Session Regarding Upcoming Standards Activities

Washington, D.C.—The USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has announced a “public listening session, with request for comment, regarding upcoming standards development activities, including feedback about specific recommendations received from the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).”

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) stated in a press release that this session is the result of years of advocacy from both OTA and Congress to create transparency around the organic rulemaking process.

“Organic is one of the most robustly regulated agricultural label claims out there,” says OTA CEO and Executive Director Laura Batcha, “but it’s the deep trust producers and consumers have in organic that make it truly special. When NOP allows critical recommendations to update the organic standards to languish for years—in some cases decades—that trust starts to erode. We are encouraged to see this process finally moving forward and urge USDA to act with expediency. We are also grateful to our allies in Congress who co-sponsored the Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic (CIAO) Standards Act, bipartisan legislation to expedite the rule making process and ensure organic remains the most trusted claim on the market.”

Related: OTA: Build Back Better Framework “centers climate change action, clean energy, and equity”
OPN 2021 Report: Fresh Produce Sales Topped $9B
Regenerative Organic Certified: Setting the Standard for Soil Health, Animal Welfare, and Farmworker Fairness

The Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act represents the “most significant assessment to date of USDA’s track record on advancing organic standards,” OTA explained in the press release. It requires USDA to advance and implement recommendations from the organic industry in a timely manner and to continually improve organic standards. It was introduced in the House in April of 2021 by Representatives Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Rodney Davis (R-IL), Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Ron Kind (D-WI) and has over 20 cosponsors.

The deadline to sign up to make oral comments during the meeting is February 28, 2022. The deadline for submitting written comments is March 30, 2022. The listening session itself will take place March 21, 2022, at 1:00 p.m. EST/3:00 p.m. PT. More information can be found here.