Nothing to hide, everything to offer

Our organic sector is one of the bright spots in the challenged U.S. farm economy. Today, we have over 27,000 certified organic operations nationwide serving a $52-plus billion market. Organic production practices, meanwhile, provide sustainable methods that can serve as a model for other farmers and protect the environment and farmworkers.

In an era of record low trust in government and corporations, the organic industry is refreshingly on the side of consumers and farmers, and works in a transparent way to lobby for good. We want the public to know what we are about, and what we need to thrive. During our Organic Week activities earlier this year in D.C., we invited top social influencers to join us and pull back the curtain on our advocacy on Capitol Hill.

As readers will see in our lead articles, organic practices are gaining attention as offering solutions to address climate change and providing healthy soils to produce nutritious food. Practices that are allowed and prohibited in organic production are important, as you will see in the special section on the benefits of organic dairy.

Meanwhile, organic fruits and vegetables are the leading category of U.S. organic food sales. In this edition, two leaders in organic produce production share their perspectives on how organic gives consumers a choice in the marketplace.

But there remain challenges. The public-private partnership of the USDA Organic label for almost 20 years has been the gold standard for a regulatory system that participants voluntarily opt into, and for which the government creates uniform and robust standards to support the sector’s needs. However, during the past decade, the organic sector has come together 20 times to agree on consensus-based recommendations to strengthen the organic standards. Yet, not a single one of these recommendations has made it through the bureaucratic maze to become a final upgraded requirement.

We seek continuous improvements in organic standards to be defined in the law and regulations to maintain the value and trust in the USDA Organic seal in the marketplace, and to allow organic to continue fostering soil health, biodiversity, animal welfare and natural resource conservation.

Organic depends on its clear differences. And we are determined to carry on that legacy.

Laura Batcha
OTA's CEO/Executive Director