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.
Millennials are adopting organic in a big way: on the farm and on the Internet, in the kitchen and in the board room
When 32-year-old Carolina King takes her toddler Camila grocery shopping in their Washington, D.C., suburb, little Camila is on the lookout for organic. If the three-year-old doesn’t spot that organic seal, she announces to all within earshot, “If it’s not organic, we don’t buy it,” and the item doesn’t get into her mom’s shopping cart.
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.
The booming U.S. organic industry posted new records in 2015, with total organic product sales hitting $43.3 billion, up a robust 11 percent from the previous year’s record level and far outstripping the overall food market’s growth rate of 3 percent, according to the Organic Trade Association’s 2016 Organic Industry Survey.
By Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack
This past May, The Organic Center held the first Organic Confluences Summit, aimed at examining the intersection of science and policy to find ways for the two to come together to advance the organic sector. The conference focused on sustainability, with scientific experts, farmers, policymakers, and organic stakeholders gathering in D.C. to discuss how research on organic’s contributions to the environment can be incorporated into government programs to improve the sustainability of U.S. agriculture.
Choosing organic is the best choice consumers can make to combat antibiotic resistance and protect themselves from antibiotic-resistant bacteria, a review paper from The Organic Center concludes.
Overuse of antibiotics in conventional livestock production has been implicated as an important contributor to antibiotic resistance. Research demonstrates that livestock produced without the use of antibiotics—as in organic agriculture—is an important part of the solution.
The organic sector is thriving. We need more farmers, research, and consumer education to keep it that way. GRO Organic check-off will help organic continue to grow. Nearly 1,400 organic stakeholders publicly support the GRO Organic Check-Off. Be sure to weigh-in this fall when the public comment period opens up in the Federal Register! Your voice counts!
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.