Policy Matters as the Organic Industry Grows

I trundled to Washington DC on my annual pilgrimage to attend OTA’s Policy Conference & Hill visit days. Dubbed “Organic Week” in Washington, it’s a 4-day extravaganza of organic industry leaders gathering to confirm our priorities and take action on the hill. This year the climate in DC was unique, awash with new leadership and new philosophies. It became apparent that as the organic sector continues to grow, it’s important that we pay attention to federal policy and show up for our fair share of funding. Continue reading

A Glimmer of Hope in Organic and Sustainable Agriculture

The Organic JourneyI’m writing this from the Sustainable Ag and Food System Funders (SASFS) policy conference in Sacramento, California. I sit amongst a group of foundations and philanthropic funders who envision a world in which food and agricultural systems enhance and sustain the well-being of people, animals, and our planet—now and into the future. I am here as the executive director of the UNFI Foundation whose mission is to advance organic agriculture in North America. As I participate in the discussion, I realize there is much to be hopeful for as we move forward into an era of great political change.  Continue reading

What’s at Stake at This Week’s National Organic Standards Board Meeting?

200px-National_Organic_ProgramThe election is behind us, and the next policy balloon destined to go off this week is in St. Louis, Missouri. I am here not to saunter under the Gateway Arch nor worry the corporate offices of Monsanto. I am here to attend the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) biannual meeting which provides an opportunity for organic stakeholders to give input on proposed recommendations and discussions. These meetings can decide the fate of organic farming and manufacturing for many years to come. Indeed the very future of organic is held in the hands of the 15 individuals on the board.

So it’s important to show up. Continue reading

Can The National Organic Program Regulate Perfection?

OrganicI’ve been in the organic industry for several decades now, and there is an increasing trend to move the organic standards towards complete and utter purity. Some in the organic community are clamoring for the National Organic Program (NOP) to regulate perfection in the organic rules. They want zero tolerance, exact measurements and prescriptive protocols. I wonder, can organic achieve ultimate perfection in an imperfect world? To what end does this ultimate penchant for perfection actually harm us? Continue reading

Bavaria and Austria Put the Culture in Ag

Bavarian AgricultureIt’s time to get the organic delegation back on the road. In Munich we head out to the Ministry of Agriculture to meet government employees, farmers, certifiers and various trade associations focused on organic agriculture. I am about to get a taste of the culture of this ancient land and its deep correlation with food and “Agri-Culture”. Continue reading