SOE Series #2: Safeguarding the Organic Supply Chain

USDA Agricultural Marketing Service national organic program organic insider

Safeguarding the Organic Supply Chain

This is the second update in our six-part series highlighting specific changes outlined in the Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE) proposed rule and explaining how they apply to members of the organic community, from farm to table.

Let us know how these proposed changes to the organic regulations will impact you, your farm or your business. 

Part Two: Mandatory Use of NOP Import Certificates

Organic imports help U.S.-based farmers and processors meet strong demand for organic products. Due to increasingly complex supply chains, organic imports can sometimes create challenges for ensuring regulatory enforcement and product traceability.

SOE requires an NOP organic import certificate for each shipment of organic products entering the United States. This will help the NOP and certifiers to confirm that imports comply with the USDA organic standards, facilitate targeted investigations, and increase reporting capabilities.

Requiring import certificates
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The 2018 Farm Bill called for technological enhancements to improve traceability of organic products. The use of electronic organic import certificates will provide critical data and make it easier to monitor product movement through the organic supply chain.

In April 2020, NOP and U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) partnered to launch the electronic organic import certificate (or "message set") in CBP's primary import system, known as the Automated Commercial Environment (ACE).The electronic organic import certificate is currently available for use as an optional filing step, not yet required. 

U.S. importers may begin requesting the NOP Import Certificate from exporters to include in their import filings at any time. Trade filers wishing to begin using and piloting this new feature should work with their software vendor on its availability.

The use of the electronic organic import certificate is expected to become mandatory with the publication of the Strengthening Organic Enforcement final rule.

Deadline for public comment

October 5, 2020 at 11:59pm Eastern

Comment and see what others are saying at,
linked from the AMS web page for SOE.

AMS Web Page for SOE

Includes links to the Federal Register announcement and
instructions on how to submit comments.

Up Next—Part Three of Six:
Recordkeeping and Fraud Prevention for Certified Operations