Organic the focus of House roundtable discussion

Laura Batcha, Executive Director and CEO of the Organic Trade Association, recently represented industry as part of an invited five-person panel on organic hosted by the House Agriculture Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research. Other panel participants represented the federal government, the research community, and the production side of organic.

Telling lawmakers that the American organic sector is strong and growing and is now an almost $50 billion industry, Batcha noted how demand for organic is outstripping domestic supply, making organic a viable and profitable opportunity for all U.S. farmers. She explained how organic‘s successful voluntary regulatory program rewards farmers and businesses that opt in, and has made organic products widely available, resulting in more than 80 percent of American households now purchasing some organic products. She stressed that consumers trust in the organic seal, and that maintaining the integrity of the seal is of vital importance for the organic sector.

Noting encouragement by USDA’s recent action to revoke the organic certification of a foreign handler responsible for fraudulent organic grain imports, Batcha assured lawmakers that the Organic Trade Association is prepared to discuss and act on improvements to oversight of the organic seal—from all vantage points.

Batcha stressed that taking action to prevent fraudulent imports is a shared responsibility.  Referring to recent reports of fraudulent imported livestock feed imports coming into the U.S., she urged that both the public and private sectors must take action to prevent this from occurring again.

Batcha discussed how work on the next farm bill provides a real opportunity to advance organic and expand organic production. She pointed out that the Organic Trade Association’s farm bill priorities was shaped by feedback from organic stakeholder from a recent survey conducted by the trade association. //