Congress Weighs Bill to Combat Food Fraud
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) administers the National Organic Program (NOP), which includes standards for “organic” food in the United States. Throughout 2017, The Washington Post has published several stories calling into question the authenticity of products from some of the largest “organic” producers of milk, eggs and imported grains.
Congress is currently considering legislation that would increase protections for consumers against food that is advertised as organic but does not meet the standards of USDA’s NOP. More specifically, the Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act, introduced by Representatives John Faso (R-N.Y.) and Michelle Lujan (D-N.M.), calls for a modernization of organic import documentation, new technology advancements and stricter enforcement of organic products entering the U.S. The proposed legislation roughly doubles the budget for the USDA’s organic program over the next five years. The Washington Post recently reported that the bill has 33 House cosponsors so far, and its supporters are hopeful that bipartisan support will facilitate its passage this year.
Industry has also stepped in to seek to halt the increasing incidences of fraud in organic. Earlier this year, for example, the Organic Trade Association formed its own anti-fraud task force. Given the increased attention this issue has received over the past year, and industry’s concerns, it is not inconceivable that an organic food fraud bill could come to fruition in the near future.