To fight fraud, California reverses organic reporting requirements
California rolled out new organic regulations last year in an effort to streamline processes for the state's 2,700 organic farmers, who contribute 40 percent to the nation's $40 billion organic food market.
The regulations, enacted Jan. 1, 2017, under the California Organic Food and Farming Act (COFFA), the first update to the state's organic program in more than a decade, reduced the amount of information from organic operations required to register with the California Department of Food and Agriculture’s (CDFA) State Organic Program (SOP).
Problem is, they new regulations aren't working.
Based on feedback from the state's organic industry, the reduction in required organic registration information, specifically commodity and acreage data, limits the ability of the SOP to enforce organic regulations.
To fix the problem, the SOP said it is expanding the amount of information collected from organic operations in order to "investigate claims of fraudulent activities" and ensure "the organic product supply chain is free of fraud, deception, and mislabeling."
According to the SOP, the changes, which go into effect April 1, include:
- adding the collection of acreage by commodity, "to provide confirmation that what is being sold as organic can be supported by what is being grown."
- adding the collection of total gross sales "to provide clarity that an aggregate of total gross sales is required, and not gross sales for each commodity."
- expansion of the commodity categories required for organic registration, "in order to obtain more accurate and relevant information for enforcement and reporting purposes."
The current regulations require information on just six categories: citrus; fruits, excluding citrus; livestock or dairy; nuts; vegetables; and other, which included apiculture, organic fallow ground, herbs, mushrooms, cut flowers, and nursery.
The amended regulations expands to 29 commodities:
- strawberries (fresh market)
- all other berries
- pome fruit
- stone fruit
- table grapes
- wine grapes
- dried grapes, raisins
- all other fruits
- fluid milk, cow
- all other dairy and dairy products
- cattle, beef
- chicken, broilers
- chicken, layers
- all other poultry/livestock and products
- all other nut crops
- lettuce (head, leaf, spring/salad mixes)
- spinach (fresh and processed)
- all other vegetables
- seed crops
- all other field crops (includes pasture and rangeland)
- all other not previously reported or listed
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