What the USDA can do for you

I have been fortunate enough to visit many foreign countries, be it for my job or volunteering with International Executive Service Corps. In my capacity working with organic farmers, I have developed a deep appreciation for the services and support our USDA offers. If you are a farmer, rancher, handler or consumer, there is something for you at the USDA. They provide a multitude of resources to help organic producers navigate the road map to successful farming. They encourage consumers to weigh in and participate in the evolution of the organic regulations. Since everyone eats yet only a few of us farm, it’s important to stay abreast of our Department of Food and Agriculture. Tune into some of the opportunities to learn more and participate in the USDA programs. Continue reading

April NOSB Meeting: Why it’s Important to be Part of the Organic Process

It was typical spring weather in the Mile High City for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) spring meeting last week. A day of piercing sunshine was followed by wind and sputtering rain that cascaded off the Rockies. The unsettled climate mirrored the tone of this biannual meeting. A cloudburst of uncertainties was gathering that could decidedly affect farmers and ranchers, manufacturers and consumers all with the swift vote of this 15-member board. While the lion’s share of this meeting was set aside for discussion, it provided a glimpse of the board’s predilections on future recommendations.  Continue reading

What I said at the NOSB meeting last week

The National Organic Standards Board met in Denver last week. The room was packed with policy wonks, farmers and consumer advocates. Public comments are the main reason for these meetings. We all sat in a subterranean ballroom to agree to disagree and perhaps influence the board to make the right decisions in order to grow organic.

My three minute comments were applauded by some and likely criticized by others.  Following is how I addressed the board:

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Peeling Back the Labels: Non-GMO & Organic

NON GMO ProjectThe rise of Non-GMO foods has stormed the aisles of almost every supermarket, natural food store and big box outlet, running rip shod over almost every other label claim. I can even find the Non-GMO claim inside my local gas-mart amongst the nuts and chips. Forecasts indicate that the global Non-GMO foods market will grow at a CAGR of 16.23% during the 2017-2021 period.

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Taking Stock and Moving Forward with the GMO Labeling Bill

moving-forwardIn July President Obama signed the bill S.764, establishing the first GMO disclosure standard for food in the US. The bill requires that the Secretary of Agriculture establish a national disclosure standard for bioengineered foods. It represents a huge compromise for many on both sides of the debate. Big agriculture has always been against any disclosure standards, so they are disgruntled. The good food movement feels betrayed by the QR code and 800-number options that companies can potentially use.

So now no one is happy. How did we get here and how do we move forward? Continue reading