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New Resource Toolkit Increases Consumer Understanding of the USDA Organic Label

Posted by Jennifer Lester Moffitt, Under Secretary, Marketing & Regulatory Programs, USDA in Farming Organic
May 21, 2024
Graphic showing the USDA Organic seal with four icons describing the process of USDA Organic

Organic is a growing sector, with domestic sales of organic products topping $69.7 billion in 2023. However, consumer research shows that consumers do not always understand what “organic” means and how USDA protects the organic label.

Now retailers and brands can download a toolkit of signs and messages about the requirements for different types of organic products that can be used in stores or online to help consumers learn more about the USDA Organic seal. The National Organic Program (NOP) created the resource to highlight the four pillars of what it means to be organic:

Protected by law:

  • USDA develops standards for organic products.
  • The USDA can enforce criminal penalties against operations that falsely use the organic seal.
  • NOP investigates complaints and takes action against businesses that violate the regulations.

Inspected by experts:

  • Specially trained organic inspectors visit farms yearly to confirm they still meet the organic standards. Every organic operation is also subject to additional inspections and testing.
  • Operations must go through a rigorous process before they can use the organic label.

Traced from farm to store:

  • The Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule increases the USDA’s ability to audit the entire organic supply chain to deter, detect, and stop fraud before it reaches stores.
  • Farms and businesses must keep detailed records of the organic products they produce, buy, and sell. This allows businesses to choose trusted suppliers and verify that what they sell is organic.

Shaped by public input:

  • Stakeholders provide feedback on proposed regulations to shape final policies.
  • The organic standards are developed with recommendations from an advisory board – the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).
  • The public can attend bi-annual NOSB public meetings and provide input.

The full toolkit, along with the individual graphics, is available on the AMS website. Many graphics include a QR code that links to the Understanding the Organic Basics webpage, where consumers can learn more about the NOP and the organic label.

NOP is a federal regulatory program that develops and enforces consistent national standards for organically produced agricultural products sold in the United States.

Category/Topic: Farming Organic