The National Organic Standards Board met in Denver last week. The room was packed with policy wonks, farmers and consumer advocates. Public comments are the main reason for these meetings. We all sat in a subterranean ballroom to agree to disagree and perhaps influence the board to make the right decisions in order to grow organic.
My three minute comments were applauded by some and likely criticized by others. Following is how I addressed the board:
Oral Comments Melody Meyer 4.20.17
“My name is Melody Meyer, and I am not a lobbyist. I am the VP of Policy at UNFI & Executive Director of the UNFI Foundation.
UNFI has 40 years of experience in the industry and is the largest distributor of organic food in North America.
We care deeply about organic.
I want to welcome the new members and ask them to take their time and consider all views as they learn more about the important issues. I thank all NOSB members for your extensive work, tireless hours and commitment.
As Tom Chapman mentioned, we all care deeply about organic – that is why we are here!
The deliberations of this committee represent everyone who cares: growers, handlers, manufacturers and consumers – all are actors integral to your discussions.
I heard testimony on the values of organic – the movement that birthed this amazing industry. Those values – the movement – is also represented through the trade; it is not a separate philosophical entity.
Indeed, the trade makes the movement possible.
It’s the dollars and cents, the economic growth that organic represents for producers, manufacturers and retailers. For consumers, it’s the option to have an informed choice through the USDA label. Expanding and preserving that choice helps consumers avoid persistent pesticide exposure. It helps correct the environmental degradation of non-organic production methods.
Limiting organic because of outdated ideologies does not serve anyone, not even the self-proclaimed movement…
Comments on Container Growing, Hydroponics and Aquaponics:
With that said I ask:
Is the outermost crust of the earth the only place organic production can make a difference?
Organic regulations must continue to allow growers the flexibility to best meet their site-specific requirements to face the evolving challenges in farming with respect to limited resources such as water, land, labor and natural resources that are more severe than ever before.
You must fairly evaluate how container growing methods, including hydroponics and aquaponics, can help meet the challenges of sustainability while fulfilling the legitimate and original intent of the organic movement to use biology to cycle natural inputs while avoiding prohibited substances.
These methods present a sustainable way to produce food especially in urban areas or where access to land and water is a barrier. Feeding more people and future generations with organic food must be our goal.
Comments on Biodegradable Mulch Film:
In addition, organic farmers deserve the choice of using biodegradable mulch film. Please do not hesitate to make the changes that are required to make this tool available to organic farmers as soon as possible.
In conclusion, I urge the NOSB to adopt balance and moderation aiming for continuous improvement in the production of the world’s gold standard of producing food and fiber.
The benefits and challenges of organic production must be constantly weighed as we grow US organic to more than 2% of agriculture.”
A full account of the meeting will be forthcoming in my next blog. Stay tuned…