Why the OTA Had to Sue USDA

It’s not something that you’d expect to hear—the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is suing the USDA. In fact, it’s an extraordinary occasion that hasn’t been witnessed before in the organic theater. But again these are extraordinary times. Most often the OTA works closely with and is an important resource for the National Organic Program, a division of USDA. They work hand in hand with the USDA’s Market Access Program (MAP) to increase organic exports worldwide. Why then would OTA embark upon this seemingly adversarial act? Continue reading

Pancakes and Bacon: The NOSB Meeting is just Around the Corner

In just over a month, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) will convene in Jacksonville, Florida, October 31st– November 2nd.  These meetings are held in different far-flung agricultural areas for a reason – so organic stakeholders can participate. The meetings are sometimes witnessed with emotion, passion and even poetry. There are also hours of laborious grindings filled with technical terms and regulatory jargon, interspersed with Roberts Rules of Order. Why put yourself through hours of dogmatic drudgery and sometimes controversy? Because the organic regulations are a mutable set of protocols that can change with a vote of this board.

If you don’t show up, the products you eat or sell or the way you farm could be in jeopardy. Continue reading

Are You an Organic Produce Veteran? Sonny Perdue Wants You!

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently announced that it is accepting nominations from fruit and vegetable industry members to fill 10 seats on the Fruit and Vegetable Industry Advisory Committee (FVIAC). Originally chartered in 2001, FVIAC meets two times per year to advise the Secretary of Agriculture on the many issues affecting the fresh fruit and vegetable sector. Continue reading

See you in September? The Future of the Organic Check-Off

After years of public debate and months of public comments the fate of the GroOrganic check-off now lies in the hands of the USDA. Lauded by many as the answer to organic funding needs, the program is also hotly contested by some small farmers and conventional commodity groups. With the debate now quieted, the destiny of the organic check-off could come into view as early as this fall. Continue reading

The Issues Riddling Organic Will Set the Stage for the 2018 Farm Bill

It was a rollicking time for organic in D.C. last week.The Senate AG Committee held a hearing on global & local markets, specialty crops, and organics as they relate to the next Farm Bill. Chairman Pat Roberts gave a hi-five to organic farmers acknowledging that “they are responding to a market signal and increasing their margins.” He also attached some scorn to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) by stating “… it seems that uncertainty and dysfunction have overtaken the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) and the regulations associated with the National Organic Program (NOP).”

What do these seemingly diverging messages from the Chairman of the House Ag Committee mean for organic in the next Farm Bill? For answers, you must understand some of the issues currently vexing the organic seal. Continue reading