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

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

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

30 Questions for You on the GMO Labeling Standard

 I remember with no measure of fondness the industry skirmishes that transpired after the GMO disclosure standard was enacted last July. It was a deal that no one on either side wanted. The USDA recently posted 30 questions on their website that will be used to draft their proposed rule. No matter how much you dislike this rule, it’s time to lay down your sword and provide real input to make it as robust as possible. Continue reading