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

A Few Bad Actors are Ushering in a new Organic Scene

It shouldn’t have come as much of a surprise. Organic corn and soybean growers across the Midwest have been kvetching about cheap imports fouling up their markets for years. USDA import data showed an enormous rise of organic soy and corn from Eastern European markets, quickly surpassing the traditional countries of origin like Argentina and Canada. When the Washington Post story on organic fraud hit, organic advocates winced, and the farmers uttered “I told you so.”  But the actions of a few unscrupulous performers may provide an opportunity for organic in the long run. Continue reading

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