On January 11, 2021, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) ended its recognition agreement with India’s Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA). The recognition agreement, established in 2006, allowed APEDA to accredit certifiers to provide USDA organic certification in India. This change adapts to the evolution of organic supply chains over time and allows AMS to protect its certified farms and businesses around the world.
AMS is providing an 18-month transition period for Indian organic operations certified USDA organic by an APEDA-accredited certifier under the recognition agreement to become certified directly by a USDA-accredited certifier.
Here’s how the transition works:
- By July 12, 2021, operations in India that were certified under the recognition agreement needed to apply for certification with a USDA-accredited organic certifier to continue to export to the United States. This applies to all operations in the supply chain. These operations must maintain their certification under the recognition agreement until they achieve certification with the USDA-accredited certifier. Operations that are allowed to export to the United States can be found in the Organic Integrity Database listed as “Applied; APEDA certified.”
- Operations in India that were not certified USDA organic under the recognition agreement (or did not maintain such certification after the termination of the recognition agreement) can apply for certification with a USDA-accredited certifier at any time. These operations cannot be listed in the Organic Integrity Database or export organic goods to the United States until they achieve certification with a USDA-accredited certifier.
- After July 12, 2022, all organic operations in India must be certified under the USDA organic regulations by a USDA-accredited certifier in order to export to the United States.
- APEDA-accredited certifiers may apply to NOP for direct accreditation to the USDA organic program at any time.
- TraceNet Certificates: Organic certifiers and operations in India are responsible for ensuring compliance to any additional Government of India export requirements, including TraceNet reporting and documentation. A TraceNet transaction certificate (Certificate of Inspection for Import of Products from Organic Production into the United States of America) issued by an accredited certification agent, must accompany all organic exports from India, including all imports from India that ultimately enter the U.S. For additional context see the USDA Organic Insider: Reminder to Certifiers and Importers: India Requires a Certificate of Inspection for Exports to the United States, released June 26, 2020.
- Certifier Directives: Organic certifiers are responsible for carrying out any directives issued by the National Organic Program. All operations in India, including operations in the supply chain, must comply with all the requirements of the directives in order to continue to export to the United States.
This transition will help mitigate the market impact of this change. During this period, AMS is working closely with certifiers to communicate the transition process and assess progress, is heightening its market surveillance, and is communicating with APEDA and USDA-accredited certifiers about enforcement needs.
If you are an organic business buying from an organic supplier certified USDA organic by an APEDA-accredited certifier, you should use the Organic Integrity Database to verify that any organic supplier is already certified or has applied for organic certification with a USDA-accredited certifier before accepting products from those suppliers.
If you are an organic business certified USDA organic by an APEDA-accredited organic certifier, you must have applied for USDA organic certification with a USDA-accredited certifier by July 12, 2021 to continue to export to the United States. Once you have applied for certification with a USDA-accredited certifier, ensure that you are on track to achieve certification by July 12, 2022 to continue exporting to the United States after that date.
If you are a certifier currently accredited by APEDA for USDA certification in India, you may apply to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) for direct accreditation at any time. Learn more about the NOP and how to become USDA accredited.
- Timeline for Transition: Operation-Level Application and Certification (pdf)
- Transition Questions and Answers
- Webinars on Organic Certification in India (held March 31, 2021)
- US - India Recognition Arrangement: Transition Update for USDA-Accredited Certifiers (pdf)
- APEDA Trade Notice: Issuance of Transaction Certificates for Export of Organic Products (pdf)
- APEDA Update: Procedures for Transfer of Operators during Suspension/Termination of Certification Body under NPOP (pdf)