The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) is changing its approach to organic oversight in India. USDA is ending its recognition agreement that has allowed APEDA-accredited certifiers to provide USDA organic certification in India. This change adapts to the evolution of organic supply chains over time and allows USDA to protect farms and businesses around the world that are following the rules.
This decision starts a transition period which will allow Indian organic operations certified by APEDA-accredited certifiers to apply for direct certification by USDA-accredited certifiers to the USDA organic standards. Certification by USDA-accredited certifiers will be required for products exported from India to the United States.
Here’s how the transition will work:
- By July 12, 2021, to continue to export to the United States, current organic operations in India will need to have applied for certification with a USDA-accredited organic certifier.
- By mid-March 2021, USDA certifiers will be able to list these organic operation applicants in India in the Organic Integrity Database, to help U.S. buyers verify that a farm or business in India has applied for NOP certification.
- After July 12, 2022, USDA organic certification by a USDA-accredited certifier will be required import organic products from India to the United States.
- APEDA-accredited certifiers may apply to NOP for direct accreditation to the USDA organic program at any time.
- NOTE: 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, 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.
This transition will help mitigate the market impact of this change. During this period, AMS will work closely with certifiers to communicate the transition process and assess progress, will heighten its market surveillance, and will closely communicate with APEDA about enforcement needs.
If you are an organic business buying from an organic supplier certified by an APEDA-accredited certifier, communicate with those suppliers about the need to apply for NOP certification to a USDA-accredited certifier by July 12, 2021, to continue their business with you. After July 12, to continue accepting products from those suppliers, you will need to 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.
If you are an organic business certified by an APEDA-accredited organic certifier, communicate with your certifier about the need to apply for certification to a USDA-accredited certifier by July 12, 2021, to continue to export USDA organic products to the U.S. To identify certifying agents previously approved under the U.S.-India recognition agreement, consult APEDA’s List of Accredited Certification Bodies (pdf) and refer to the “Validity of Current Accreditation” and “Scope of Accreditation” columns. The scope of accreditation shown will be listed as NPOP and USDA NOP.
If you are 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)