Dear valued customer,
We would like to inform you about the NOP final rule - Strengthening Organic Enforcement (SOE).
The amendments protect integrity in the organic supply chain and build consumer and industry trust in the USDA organic label by strengthening organic control systems, improving farm to market traceability, and providing robust enforcement of the USDA organic regulations.
Who is affected by the changes?
SOE applies to all NOP certified operators worldwide.
What are the main changes of SOE final rule published on January 19th, 2023?
In the following, a summary of main changes being implemented with SOE are listed. For more information, please visit Kiwa BCS’s (insert link to website) or the NOP’s website (link provided below).
1.Applicability and Exemptions
- SOE requires anyone involved in selling, brokering or trading of an organic product to be certified.
However, it is not fully clear yet on how SOE will rule on brand owners and transportation companies. This will hopefully be clarified in near future.
2.Imports to the United States
- NOP import certificates are required for all imports to the US.
3.Supply Chain Traceability and Organic Fraud prevention
- SOE requires operations to develop a risk assessment as well as a fraud prevention plan for their supply chains. This includes labels and identifying all products in documents.
- If you need assistance in developing a fraud prevention plan, consider the OTA Fraud Prevention initiative with MSU.
More information on the initiative
Annex_Fraud prevention Plan_ExecSummary-OTA-GOSCI-Guide.pdf
- SOE instructs certification bodies to share information about e.g. investigations and directs them to collaborate.
4.Labelling of nonretail containers
SOE adds additional labelling requirements for nonretail containers. These are amongst others: ：
- statement identifying the product as organic
- unique information linking the container to audit trail documentation
- certifier identification
- lot number
We suggest, you already start modifying your labels now. Talk to your Kiwa-contact about what may need to change on your non-retail labels.
5.New requirements concerning the certification process and related areas
- Certifiers are required to update the Organic Integrity Database (OID) regularly with more specific information
- Standardized certificates generated from the OID.
- More focus on traceability and mass balance audits
- Certifiers will be required to perform risk-based audits. Certifiers must obtain audit documentation from operators to perform cross-checks and supply chain analysis.
- SOE clarifies that NOP’s investigation and enforcement authorities extend to all operations that violate the act, including uncertified operations and any “responsibly connected” persons to a certified operation.
- adds criteria on grower group certification and internal control systems (ICS)
- adds requirements on personnel training and qualifications of certification body staff
- one inspection per calendar year is obligatory.
- Adds criteria on unannounced inspections
- Other measures strengthening the organic integrity.
What is the timeline?
SOE is effective March 20th, 2023. There is a 14-month implementation period that started since its publication on January 19th, 2023. Full implementation date is March 19th, 2024.
Where can I find general information about SOE and a link to the final rule?
You can find the link to the final rule as well as other supporting information under the link provided below, including a side-by-side comparison sheet of the former NOP rule and SOE as well as a SOE fact sheet.
- In English: Strengthening Organic Enforcement | Agricultural Marketing Service (usda.gov)
Although we have informed your company about the most important changes of SOE with this info letter, you will not be able to bypass reading the legal text of the regulation in detail. Kiwa therefore strongly advises you to do just that.
Change can be challenging, but we’re here to help! For SOE-questions, please contact, depending on where your operation is located, your local office (703), your assigned Kiwa service team (701) or Anna Schaab at email@example.com (702).
This will help us organize your questions and respond adequately.
Anna Schaab – NOP Scheme Manager