The economic impact of fraudulent organic imports is profound. Cornucopia’s director of international policy Anne Ross is focused on ways to reform and strengthen domestic organic regulations, while increasing oversight of organic products originating overseas. An advocate for organic farmers and consumers, she is also actively engaged in promoting organic agriculture worldwide.
Around the globe, small farmers are struggling to survive as conventional production models—marked by large-scale corporatization and vertical integration—masquerade as organic and infiltrate international markets. The continued corporatization of agriculture leaves US farmers to compete not only with industrialized factory farms in the US but, increasingly, with those across oceans.
In July, Ross traveled to Lithuania as part of her participation in IFOAM’s Organic Leadership Course. IFOAM is the worldwide umbrella organization for the organic agriculture movement. Its intensive, one-year course empowers participants to assume greater responsibility in addressing the world’s environmental and social challenges through solutions in the organic movement.
Ross recently completed her IFOAM development project (DP): “Legal and policy actions to further the development of organic agriculture in Africa.” Her DP was part of a research project led by Dr. Raymond Auerbach, who was enlisted by the African Union Commission to complete a project analyzing the state of organic agriculture in 47 African countries. In February, Ross heads to Germany where she will present her findings to IFOAM colleagues, then attend a day at BIOFACH as part of her IFOAM course.
Highlighting her South African trip, Ross toured a vegetable farm located in Khayelitsha Township. The farm, and the nonprofit supporting its efforts, remain committed to producing nutritious, organic food for the area’s residents despite challenges like water shortages and, most recently, rolling blackouts.
Ross shared a few of the farmer’s reflections:
Climate change is happening.
Feeding soil feeds the soul.
Plant friends together.
The survival of authentic organic farmers in the US requires that organic food produced domestically and abroad adheres to the organic principles on which the movement originated. These guiding organic principles also improve soil health, increase the capacity of the land to hold water, and offer farmers around the world independence from genetically modified agriculture and the pesticide treadmill.
This coming week, Ross will speak at the 40th anniversary EcoFarm Conference. In her presentation, “How to Mend a Broken Organic Program,” Ross will share her insights regarding ways to reform and strengthen domestic organic regulations, while increasing oversight of organic products originating overseas.