Morning Agriculture: Organic Industry Forming Anti-Fraud Task Force — Comments on NAFTA, GIPSA Due Today — Trump to Announce Cuba Policy Friday

ORGANIC INDUSTRY FORMING ANTI-FRAUD TASK FORCE: A task force convened by the Organic Trade Association will get to work this month on developing a best-practices guide for the private sector to use in verifying its international supply chains, said Laura Batcha, OTA’s CEO and executive director. The move is in part a response to a report in The Washington Post last month that documented how three shipments of fraudulent “organic” corn and soybeans entered the United States from Turkey. The task force plans to share information with organic certification agencies as well, and will likely include in the final document a recommendation that importers report to the USDA National Organic Program when they reject shipments and why, Batcha told MA.

The OTA would like to see a more risk-focused system at NOP, so that when unusual trends or anomalies in trade of organic goods are spotted, the agency will alert industry to advise heightened vigilance, Batcha said, noting the organization doesn’t typically disclose task-force membership. The NOP and its approved certifiers do investigate formal complaints — hundreds of which are submitted annually — and take enforcement action. During the last five years, certifiers have suspended or revoked 900 operations, said Miles McEvoy, chief of the NOP. And for nearly a year the agency has been conducting an investigation on potential fraud in organic corn and soybean imports from Turkey, which have spiked significantly since 2014, McEvoy said. “In a complex supply chain, Turkey is a passthrough country, with organic grain coming from Eastern European countries like Ukraine, Romania and Kazakhstan,” he said, adding that overall, he is confident the global organic control system is “rigorous and comprehensive.”…

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