Organic Fraud in the Marketplace – What it Means for You

The organic industry has been peppered with a spate of news about a few bad actors trying to sell conventional products as organic. Most notably, containers of fraudulent soybeans were found entering the US market from Eastern Europe through Turkish exporters.

This, of course, is bad for US producers who have to compete with prices created from a false supply chain.

It is also bad news for the organic industry as a whole. Every vitriolic headline casts doubt and uncertainty in the heart of the organic consumer. Continue reading

Make a Political Difference in 2018

I spent the early part of my early adult life buying, selling, and trading fresh organic produce. I was too busy building businesses and helping farmers grow theirs, to pay attention to pesky things like regulations or federal funding. Heck, I was so naïve I didn’t even know about the Farm Bill and its billion-dollar effect on food and farming.

Then in 2007, an entire universe of possibility opened up when I walked into the halls of Congress to advocate for organic funding in the next Farm Bill. I realized from that point forward that staying politically engaged is one of the most powerful ways to support the organic movement and the trade. Continue reading

Trump Administration Runs Afoul on the Organic Animal Welfare Rule

I’m not inclined to use inflammatory headlines, but this is really ruffling my feathers. On December 18th the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its intention to withdraw the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices (OLPP) final rule. This action defies the very process Congress mandated for the organic seal. It represents a full assault on the integrity of the organic label. Continue reading

Big or Small, Does Size Really Matter?

Having spent the first 19 years of my life in Iowa, I am keenly aware of the juxtaposition of big Ag and small family farms. For the most part, Iowa is a vast rolling landscape of corn and soy, planted and harvested by one agricultural soldier with his tractor, GPS and a battery of inputs. In places like Kalona, Iowa, the Amish community farms with draft horses and wide-brimmed hats. Their small family plots produce vegetables, corn, eggs, milk and delicious cheese curds.

Both models can be certified organic if the inputs and practices align with the regulations.

As the demand for certified organic continues to surge, large-scale organic production fuels the growth of the burgeoning $50-billion industry. What are the challenges and benefits of Big Organic and Little Organic. Does size really matter for the movement? Continue reading

NOSB Fails to Prohibit Hydroponic and Container Growing in Organic Standards

The NOSB meeting opened with the standard introductions and agency updates. There was a palpable tension as the soil and the soilless camps huddled in separate groups outside. The topic looming large and passionately at this meeting is whether to prohibit various modes of growing outside the soil—organic hydroponics. Continue reading