Agrarian Elders Alarmed by Direction of Organic Agriculture, Share Concerns With the NOSB

May 11th, 2016

[This letter was sent to all members of the National Organic Standards Board on April 15, 2016, prior to the recent NOSB meeting. Read more about the Agrarian Elders here.]

Source: Adam McLane

Dear NOSB Members,

As Agrarian Elders we want to tell you how concerned we are about the organic farming movement losing connection with its roots and traditional organic concepts.

  • Production of milk, meat and eggs from giant CAFOs, overtly skirts the spirit and letter of the organic law, betraying consumer trust.
  • The flood of imported organic commodities, including corn and soybeans, is now making up the majority of the market and shutting out U.S. farmers. Can we really trust the organic certification process in China, India or former Soviet bloc states?  US production shortfalls are due to unstable markets and unsustainable pricing: current efforts to recruit more farmers by the OTA is rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.
  • Allowing hydroponics to be certified as organic is just one area where the USDA has refused to respect the NOSB and its past deliberations, and is defrauding the public. 
  • The current wholesale usurping of the historic NOSB process through shifting the power of board governance from the NOSB to USDA-NOP leadership (Policy & Procedure Manual rewrite).

We are writing, respectfully, to ask you to carefully consider the research that is performed by The Cornucopia Institute, and other nonprofits, respected by the organic farming community, in your deliberations.

Cornucopia’s research, in particular, is especially significant thanks to the seasoned policy experts and scientists on their staff — along with their veteran Board and advisory leadership (including a number of us).

It’s important when you vote, on behalf of your constituencies (set forth in the Organic Foods Production Act), that you carefully weigh the perspective of the organic farming community, and our loyal customers.

Some industry representatives, and some governmental officials that their lobbyists have successfully befriended, seem to be interested in growing organics at all costs. However, if we compromise the integrity of the organic label those economic gains will be short lived.

Truly dedicated organic farmers, and our loyal customers, will be the ones to suffer.

Thank you very sincerely for your volunteer efforts on behalf of the organic community,

Michael Ableman, Foxglove Farm, British Columbia

Eliot Coleman & Barbara Damrosch, Four Season Farm, Maine

Jean-Paul Courtens, Roxbury Farm, New York

Gloria & Steve Decater, Live Power Farm, California

Carly Delsignore, Tide Mill Farm, Maine

Jim Crawford, New Morning Farm, Pennsylvania

Jim Gerritsen, Wood Prairie Family Farm, Maine

Jake Guest, Killdeer Farm, Vermont

Andrea Hazzard, Hazzard Free Farm, Illinois

Betsy Hitt, Peregrine Farm, North Carolina

Norbert Kungl, Selwood Green Farm, Nova Scotia

Jack Lazor, Butterworks Farm, Vermont

Frank Morton, Wild Garden Seed, Oregon

Hui Newcomb, Potomac Vegetable Farms, Virginia

Dru Rivers, Full Belly Farm, California

Susan Tyler, Whaelghinbran Farm, New Brunswick

Josh Volk, Slow Hand Farm, Oregon

Warren Webber, Star Route Farms, California

Tom Willey, T&D Willey Farms, California

Zach Wolf, Locusts on Hudson Farm, New York

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