This request is a collaboration with journalist Molly Longman.

The USDA’s National Organics Program “launched the COMPLIANCE Database in March 2019," according to the department’s Organic Oversight and Enforcement Update Summary of Activities a couple of months later. “This new tool allows the team to better track case progress and more quickly identify patterns and relationships across complaints.”

According to a subsequent report, the system received 850 “complaints and the inquiries” in fiscal year 2021; of those, the agency deemed it necessary to investigate 58%. (The other 42% were “actually simple questions about an operation or the organic regulations, which can be resolved quickly with educational information.”)

Our FOIA request 📄 seeks a comprehensive set of complaint, investigation, and outcome records from this database, as well as documentation concerning the database’s structure and interpretation.

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