Why the USDA is finding it hard to combat surge in fraudulent organic products

| | November 5, 2018

USDA has an organic problem. The department wants to clamp down on fraudulent products, but needs to tackle inaccurate government data on organic farmland acreage.

How many acres of organic farmland are there in the U.S.? Don’t ask the Agriculture Department. The government’s data on organic acreage is wildly inaccurate …. and USDA is now considering new reporting requirements to help it develop a better nationwide accounting of organic acreage.

Something doesn’t add up: One USDA database reports 121 million acres of organic farmland across the country. But the same database lists a global total of 13.5 million acres.

— Why it matters: Getting the numbers right isn’t just about proper bookkeeping — it’s part of an effort to crack down on fraudulent organic products …. The data problem is unique to the organics sector, which has battled for decades to share an equal footing at USDA with conventional agriculture. Responsibility for collecting organic acreage stats has passed from agency to agency in recent years. It’s now handled by the National Organic Program, which certifies products as “USDA Organic.”

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Read full, original article: Inside USDA’s organic data gap

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