The USDA is revoking the permits of two organic food inspection agencies. It's a step in the right direction.
On March 02, USDA announced that it was revoking its accreditation of two certifying agencies, Certified Organic, Inc. (COI) and Guaranteed Organic Certification Agency (GOCA). USDA says COI failed to:
You can track down the records of such things on the USDA's website, and see the handful of other such enforcement actions at the National Organic Program's site.
I'd say this is progress. Organic producers are supposed to follow the rules of the National Organic Program, and to be inspected to make sure they do. If the inspectors aren't doing their job diligently, you won't be able to tell whether the organic foods you buy are worth the premium prices.
This is a key point of a recent FoodNavigator story on the market for organics. The U.S. industry is expected to go from $21.1 billion in 2010 to $36.8 billion in 2015. How come? Because of "the government's monetary and regulatory support and increasing acceptance of organic food in the country."
People will pay more for organics if they think the producer is credible. Organics are about credibility. That is why the USDA needs to fiercely enforce organic certification. Doing so protects the industry. The more of this sort of thing, the better.
This post also appears on foodpolitics.com