The Cornucopia Institute

The Cornucopia Institute, through research and investigations on agricultural and food issues, provides needed information to family farmers, consumers and other stakeholders in the good food movement and to the media. We support economic justice for the family-scale farming community – partnered with consumers – backing ecologically produced local, organic and authentic food.

New Farm Bill Weakens Organic Regulatory Oversight

December 13th, 2018

Congress Agrees with Cornucopia: USDA Undermined Organics and Violated Law

The 2018 Farm Bill is one of the biggest pieces of legislation of the year—but getting it off the ground has been a challenge for the divided Congress. With many Farm Bill programs already expired, or set to expire by the end of the year, the passage of the legislation was time-critical.

Signing the Conference Report
for the 2018 Farm Bill
Source: House Agriculture Committee Democrats

The final text from the conference committee was released Monday, December 10. By Wednesday, both houses of Congress had passed the legislation, by strong bipartisan margins, and sent it to the President’s desk for his signature.

In addition to perennially contentious funding for food stamps and farm subsidies, the bill contains most of the logistics that keep the USDA wheels turning.

In an affront to the organic farming community, this Farm Bill codifies a number of contentious changes to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). These provisions weaken and confuse the NOSB’s ability to represent the public and advise the USDA Secretary on organic matters. Read Full Article »

Weeding the Organic Garden: Ferreting Out Corruption

December 11th, 2018

New Guide Separates Hydroponic (Soil-less) “Organic” Produce From the Real McCoy

A prominent organic industry watchdog, The Cornucopia Institute, just released a report on “organic” hydroponics, exposing a rapidly accelerating trend in organic fruit and vegetable production: the shift to growing produce in industrial settings, with nutrients primarily coming from a liquid fertilizer solution, instead of rich fertile soil, as required by federal law.

In addition to the report, Cornucopia also published a mobile-friendly, companion buyer’s guide, lifting the veil on the brands that clandestinely market hydroponic production as organic.  Hydroponic produce is explicitly prohibited from being labeled as organic in Canada, Mexico, and most other developed countries. The European Union recently voted to close a loophole that was permitting a few northern EU states to label hydroponics as “organic.” Many countries where growers are prohibited from marketing hydroponic produce as organic, such as Holland, are major exporters to the U.S.

“With hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of venture and equity capital being invested in industrial-scale greenhouses the size of football fields, parking lots filled with thousands of containers with drip irrigation, or ‘vertical farms’ in cities, consumers and wholesale buyers need a way to discern which certified organic fruits and vegetables are truly nutrient-dense and produced according to the law,” said Mark A. Kastel, Executive Director of The Cornucopia Institute, a Wisconsin-based farm policy research group. Read Full Article »

Do You Care Too? Organic Food/Farming Under Threat

December 7th, 2018

Dear Friends,


I was blown away by the outpouring of generosity from people who deeply care about the best food and best farms across the country — last week on Giving Tuesday Cornucopia exceeded the one-day fundraising record we set in 2017. Seeing all the online donations come in was a big morale boost for our entire staff— we are humbled!

This is the second year we have a challenge grant from the same family foundation (doubling your contributions).

With about a dozen staff members here at Cornucopia, it’s exciting for us to connect with all of the passionate advocates across the country who join with us in this work morally and financially.

From all of us—a huge THANK YOU!

Like my decades-long friend, Cornucopia’s cofounder Will Fantle, said last year after setting the aforementioned record: “They may have the lobbyists, but we have the people power!” Read Full Article »

First Federal Indictment for Dicamba Misuse

December 6th, 2018

Cornucopia’s Take: GMO and conventional farmers are increasingly plagued by weeds that have become resistant to glyphosate (the active ingredient in Roundup), and crop yields in some areas of the country are dropping. Monsanto and BASF released genetically modified, dicamba-resistant seed (the new alternative to Roundup) before the attendant “low volatility” version of dicamba herbicide was approved by the EPA for sale. The only formulation of dicamba then available was prohibited for use due to its volatile nature (meaning it has the tendency to drift badly). Some farmers predictably bought the new seed and used the older version of dicamba illegally to control weeds–with dicamba drift damaging neighboring farmlands. The herbicide companies have so far refused to take responsibility for creating this situation. Cornucopia champions organic and sustainable agriculture as a way for farmers to get off the pesticide treadmill and provide truly healthy food.

Missouri Farmer First In U.S. To Face Federal Charges Related To Dicamba
Harvest Public Media
by Jonathan Ahl

Soybean leaf cupping from dicamba drift
Source: K-State Research and Extension

A southeastern Missouri cotton and soybean farmer has the distinction of being the first person in the United States to face federal charges over alleged dicamba misuse.

Bobby David Lowery of Parma, Missouri, was indicted Nov. 13 by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dianna Collins. The indictment alleges Lowery used dicamba improperly, lied to investigators about it and then falsified documents to try and cover it up.

Collins’ office confirmed to Harvest Public Media that these were the first federal charges involving dicamba, an herbicide that’s been blamed for damaging millions of acres of non-dicamba-resistant crops across the country. Dicamba has restrictions on soybeans across the U.S., and at the time of the allegations it was not approved for use on cotton in Missouri. Read Full Article »

The “Organic Pasture Rule”: How the Law Sets Minimum Standards for Grazing

December 5th, 2018

by Marie Burcham, JD
Farm and Food Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute

Introduction to Organic Livestock and Grazing Requirements

How organic livestock are produced is covered by specific regulations—the only such federal regulations concerning a food product that address how the animal was raised and not just the qualities of the final product.

The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA), published regulations, guidance from the USDA, and certifier inspections all play a part in how organic livestock are produced. However, the regulations form the basic structure for how everything plays out in the “field”; those regulations will be the focus of this article. Read Full Article »

The Cornucopia Institute
P.O. Box 126 Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
Ph: 608-625-2000

In the spirit of the 2018 giving season, a generous Cornucopia member has offered to DOUBLE ALL DONATIONS made in support of authentic and local food from true family farms. We hope you’ll take this opportunity to increase your impact with a gift to Cornucopia.

Donate Today