Strict Enforcement of AMS Organic Certification Begins Sept. 19

Trade Update • July 2, 2024


he USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) team has announced that starting September 19, significant changes will take effect to ensure the integrity of organic product imports.

Key Changes

The NOP team announced significant changes that will take effect on September 19:

  1. Certification Requirement: An NOP Import Certificate will be invalid if the importer is not listed as certified in the Organic Integrity Database.
  2. Discontinuation of the “999” Code: The “999” code, which has provided flexibility during the transition period, will no longer be used. This code will be phased out as it has served its purpose.

In a related move, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service issued CSMS 611399474 on June 25, indicating that the enforcement level for AMS AM 8 flagging will shift from a warning to a rejection severity on September 19.

Enforcement Actions

Starting September 19, the NOP team will take immediate action against importers with invalid or missing certificates or those using the “999” transition code. Enforcement actions will include cease-and-desist letters and penalties. Deputy Administrator Jennifer Tucker highlighted that entities in the organic supply chain who have not achieved certification by this deadline may need to exit the organic business.

Implementation Progress and Compliance

The electronic organic certificate program, which rolled out on March 19, has been deemed a success. Since its implementation:

  • 79 percent of organic product entries have been associated with a valid NOP-Import Certificate.
  • The Organic Integrity Database has issued a total of 49,712 Import Certificates.

However, compliance issues persist, with 837 warning letters sent to uncertified importers. A second round of warnings is currently underway.

Acknowledgment and Ongoing Collaboration

During the June 20 PGA Day event, Deputy Administrator Jennifer Tucker and Trade Director Jon Veley expressed their gratitude to the National Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) for their support in ensuring a smooth implementation of the new system. Despite the upcoming stringent measures, the NOP team will continue to work with the NCBFAA and the trade community to address special situations and challenges.

For questions or concerns about if your products are affected please contact us.


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