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

Eat, Play, Learn: My Annual Pilgrimage to Natural Products Expo-East

Many of us pass the last days of summer making an annual pilgrimage to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. We don’t come to swim through the aquarium or catch a fly ball at Camden Yards. This historic seaport is the place where all things natural and organic gather to foment and foster the trade. It’s the place to whet your business appetite with new products, educational forums and networking opportunities. Making the journey is well worth the sore feet and lack of sleep—it’s the place to make new friends and reacquaint with old buddies, assuring good business prevails. There is plenty in store this year to keep you engaged, educated and delighted. Continue reading

Unbuckling the Corn-Belt – One Drop at a Time

There is an African proverb that speaks to our modern agricultural dilemma. It is said that “dirty water cannot be washed.” Yet we continue to pollute our waters with our agricultural practices in the heartland of the continent. Corn and soy are planted in vast expanses, modified to withstand extreme applications of pesticides and herbicides. They are also reliant on vast devotions of synthetic fertilizers.

All these agricultural inputs end up in our waterways and drinking water, harming our health and the environment. There is no easy method to “wash away” these pollutants so pervasive in our waters.   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