We are looking to source organic botanicals which are grown and extracted out of the states then imported and labeled. The farms in the country of origin are certified organic by a body recognized by the USDA. How far back on the supply chain would you deem it appropriate for site visits towards a Vendor Qualification Audit? They will have already filled out Quality Self Assessments for the production processes and organic farming practices as well as supplied the associated documentation.
If this were my employer it would very much depend on the material risk assessment & how the material is going to be treated/used.
For instance, say you were sourcing strawberries from a developed country, all the suppliers farmers were global GAP certified and you would be applying a CCP kill step (chlorine washing?) - this wouldn't be high risk.
But then, suppose you would be sourcing an unknown ingredient (starfruit?) from an unknown region, in a country known to have issues with pathogens in irrigation water & you weren't going to apply a CCP kill step - this would be very high risk.
If you are buying from farms it would be prudent to audit them, if you are buying from a supplier, they should be auditing the farms who supply them, to ensure correct use of pesticides, treatment (anaerobic composting) of manure, appropriate standards for irrigation water etc. etc. and full records of their supplier approval & monitoring should be available.
Suppliers should also provide full pesticide analysis (and heavy metals/aflatoxins etc.) at the start of the growing season to demonstrate that they are compliant with your agreed specification.
Anybody can supply documentation & complete an SAQ but the real test is how consistent their standards are