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

2017 Fall NOSB Meeting, trick or a treat?

The fall edition of this year’s NOSB meeting will be held in Jacksonville Florida, just in time for a few goblins to come groping for organic candy. We engage in this magic twice a year to give voice to the issues and engage in the rulemaking process in a transparent and diverse manner. We summon up communal consensus with a brew of public comment and a pinch of participation. Will this Halloween NOSB invoke solidarity or discord? I plan to be there to report on all the tricks performed and any special treats offered up. Continue reading

Can Organic Soil Trump Climate Change?

The names bluster through in a destructive alphabetical roll call, Harvey, Irma, Jose and Maria. Like apocalyptic horsemen, the storms sweeping through the Atlantic all reached category four and higher. Fueled by super-warm ocean currents, this unusually active hurricane season provides devastating evidence that our planet is warming. Our climate is changing.

Agriculture is one of the greatest contributors to greenhouse emissions, but we all gotta eat – right?  Now a trailblazing study, partially funded by the UNFI Foundation proves that organic agriculture is a way to feed the planet while reducing our contribution to climate change. Continue reading