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.
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?
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.
This past September, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, who serves on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, introduced a bill that would make urban farms of all types eligible for U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and would set up an office of urban agriculture within the agency. The Urban Agriculture Act of 2016, as envisioned by Senator Stabenow, would help create new economic opportunities, giving urban families greater access to healthy food and creating a healthier environment in cities and towns across the country.
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.
By Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
It is bittersweet to bid farewell to Congressman Sam Farr, who is the 20th Congressional District of California’s longest serving member— having served the district for twelve terms, since 1993.
On July 29, 2016 President Obama signed GMO labeling legislation into law. The law, which passed the House and Senate by large bipartisan majorities earlier this summer, creates federal mandatory GMO labeling.
OTA’s Farmers Advisory Council
The Organic Trade Association’s 2016 Policy Conference hosted another Farmers Advisory Council (FAC) summit, where FAC members met to discuss and reflect on FAC’s successes over the past three years, and contemplated how to increase participation and imagine where FAC will head in the next three years.
This summer, Organic Trade Association members banded together to defend the process by which organic regulations are created and implemented against an outside attack from Congress and the powerful livestock industry.