Three reasons for optimism in a time of uncertainty

If you’re like me, you’ve spent the last couple of months reassessing the future. The outcome of the 2016 presidential election was not what I expected. 

As a policymaker—especially with my work in agriculture—it’s forced me to re-approach questions I previously thought I had answers to (or at least educated guesses).

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Update on OTA Sector Councils

Farmers Advisory Council


The Organic Trade Association’s (OTA’s) Farmers Advisory Council (FAC) is growing its organizational and direct member participation. Numerous farmer organizations across the country have expressed interest in joining FAC, and OTA looks forward to working with each organization in facilitating their involvement. Similarly, as OTA continues to grow its direct farmer membership, we expect participation on FAC to develop in both its breadth and depth.

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Final rule: welfare of organic livestock, poultry

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in January published the final rule on animal welfare standards for organic livestock and poultry in the Federal Register. The Office of Management and Budget had been reviewing the rule since a public comment period ended in July.

Based on recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board, the final rule:

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USDA approves new transitional certification program

On January 11, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) announced a new partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help guide farmers transitioning into certified organic agricultural production.

Using standards developed by OTA, the National Certified Transitional Program will provide oversight to approved Accredited Organic Certifying Agents offering transitional certification to producers. This will help ease the transition process to organic, allow farmers to sell their products as certified transitional at a premium, and encourage more organic production.

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Filing complaints to USDA: An aspect of organic integrity

The growth of the organic industry relies on continued consumer confidence that the organic label is backed up by an assurance of adherence to the organic production and handling standards. To ensure that organic farmers and handlers are meeting organic requirements, organic certifiers conduct annual inspections, unannounced inspections, residue testing, and market surveillance. In addition to these enforcement mechanisms, complaints from the general public serve an important role in identifying potential violations of the organic standards.

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An introduction to organic ‘bioponics’ and containers

Bioponics and containerized production were a significant topic of discussion at the Fall 2016 NOSB meeting in St. Louis, MO. Hydroponics, aeroponics, aquaponics, bioponics, and containers are all buzzwords that are used to describe different production systems, but what do these various terms and definitions mean, and what do these systems look like?

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National List Criteria: Inside the review process

Organic regulations require certified operations to demonstrate they are promoting ecological balance, conserving biodiversity, managing livestock to meet health and wellness requirements and using only approved farming and handling inputs. Organic agriculture is also governed by the basic rule that natural and organic inputs are allowed while synthetic inputs are prohibited. In some cases, however, synthetic or non-organic inputs are the only option available because of the absence of a natural or organic alternative.

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Shaping the next farm bill from the ground up

As the new Administration and Congress take on their responsibilities, it is fitting to start framing policy advocacy toward building the next farm bill—a five-year omnibus bill that sets policy for commodity support and risk management, publicly funded ag research, rural development, conservation and nutritional support programs like SNAP—with the current bill set to expire in September 2018. This will be the first time that a farm bill has been written under an entirely Republican House, Senate, and Administration since 1954.

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