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US shutdown could delay plans to stop fake organic imports

The US government shutdown is stalling plans to block fraudulent imports of organic produce. The 2018 farm bill instructed the US Department of Agriculture to develop and implement regulations to reduce the amount of fake organic food being imported. The decision came after The Washington Post reported that millions of pounds of imported grains were being unjustly marked and sold as ‘organic’ last year.

Part of the reason this was able to happen is the laws regulating organic imports were written in 2000, before organics had blossomed into a global market, said Laura Batcha, the executive director of the Organic Trade Association. Those laws do not allow for the utilization of the latest technology for tracking imports, nor do they give the USDA the right to directly oversee other countries' third-party organic certifiers.

According to, those rules are supposed to be in place by the end of 2019, but a prolonged government shutdown would make that unlikely. The shutdown reached its 27th day Thursday, making it the longest government shutdown in history.

Fortunately, current organic inspections are done by third-party organizations, not the federal government, Batcha said. That means those inspections continue unfettered.

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