Cornucopia News Archive

USDA Accused of Disseminating “Corporate Propaganda” Backing Agribusiness Switch of Organics to (Soil-less) Hydroponic Production

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

[Read Cornucopia’s formal request to the USDA’s Office of Inspector General to investigate whether the agency willfully attempted to misinform the public.]

Regulators Bypass Expert Panel, Endorse Organic Practices Banned Worldwide

FOIA Documents, Witnesses Indicate Collusion, USDA Organic Program in Turmoil: Formal Complaint Filed with Office of Inspector General 

Hydroponic operations, like this one,
need only change the fertilizer solution to
become certified organic
Image source: Horticulture Group

In an affront to the farming pioneers who launched the organic movement, today a $50 billion industry, the USDA announced late last month that the “Certification of hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic operations is allowed under the USDA organic regulations, and has been since the National Organic Program (NOP) began.”

Much of the hydroponic production entering the organic market takes place in large, industrial-scale greenhouses using liquid fertilizers, mostly produced from conventional, hydrolyzed soybeans. Hydroponic produce under the organic label is rapidly displacing fruit and vegetables grown in soil, which is carefully nurtured to improve fertility, by diversified farms.  The founders within the organic farming community contend that hydroponics’ cheaper production techniques, employed by huge growers in Mexico, Canada, and Europe, where hydroponics cannot be legally labeled as “organic,” is crushing legitimate soil-based farmers in the U.S.

There is no legal requirement for conventional or organic produce to be labeled as grown hydroponically, so consumers are likely unaware that the production methods, and corresponding nutrient levels, used in the fruits and vegetables they are purchasing have radically changed. Read Full Article »

Measuring Biodiversity on Organic Farms

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Legally Mandated, But Ignored

[This article was previously published in the winter issue of The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]

by Linley Dixon, PhD
Senior Scientist at The Cornucopia Institute

Source: Adobe Stock

Regardless of whether a farm is certified organic or not, when you step on a real organic farm, you know it. How? Biodiversity.

While surprising to many of us, biodiversity is not an esoteric, incalculable quality. In fact, it is relatively easy to quantify.

And by law, certifiers should be doing just that. Biodiversity can be measured in the soil, on the ground, or even in the air!

Lack of enforcement of the requirement to conserve biodiversity on organic farms is among the biggest failures of USDA’s National Organic Program.

The USDA regulations state that organic production “responds to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.

If there is regulatory language that mandates biodiversity on organic farms, why are there so many certified organic industrial monoculture operations that so clearly violate this requirement? Read Full Article »

Cornucopia at the MOSES Conference, February 22 – 24 in LaCrosse, WI

Friday, January 19th, 2018

The MOSES Conference in La Crosse, Wisconsin is the largest organic farming conference in the country, taking place February 22-24:

The MOSES conference attracts thousands of participants and includes keynote speeches, 66 workshops, music/dances/socializing, organic meals and, most importantly, the ability for us all to rub shoulders where a lot of good knowledge and information rubs off.

Workshops run the gamut of interesting topics, including one on fraudulent organic imports with John Bobbe of OFARM, Thea O’Carroll of YieldOrganic, Carmen Fernholz of A Frame Farms, and Bob Stuczynski of Stuczynski Family Farms.

A number of key Cornucopia staff members will be in town from around the country (Colorado, California, Mississippi and Michigan – not to mention Minnesota and Wisconsin) they would enjoy and benefit from meeting you and hearing your stories and questions.

Cornucopia will have a booth in the trade show (#312), and we hope to see our friends there! Read Full Article »

Illegal Certification of Hydroponics Continues

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

NOSB Split 8:7 Favoring Industry Lobbyists over Farmers

[This article was previously published in the winter issue of The Cultivator, Cornucopia’s quarterly newsletter.]

by Linley Dixon, PhD
Senior Scientist at The Cornucopia Institute

USDA Secretary Perdue tours the Lēf Hydroponic Farm in NH
Source: Lance Cheung, USDA

Can conventional, GMO, glyphosate-sprayed soybeans be certified USDA Organic? Of course not.

Can a farming system that relies on conventional, GMO, glyphosate-sprayed soybeans for fertility be certified USDA organic? Yes, according to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) and some organic certifiers, including the nation’s largest, California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF).

If you think that’s absurd, hypocritical, or even illegal under the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA), you are not alone.

Thousands of organic farmers, many of whom showed up to protest these hydroponic practices at the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting last November, agree. Read Full Article »

Thank You!

Friday, January 5th, 2018
Will Fantle and Mark Kastel

A big thank you from the staff and leadership at The Cornucopia Institute for the outpouring of support (dollars, comments, and notes) during December. Your confidence in our work really means a lot to us!

We are happy to report that we were able to completely utilize the $50,000 matching grant contributed, for the second year in a row, by a family foundation that had requested anonymity.

There are still checks coming in through the mail, postmarked prior to the end of the year, so we don’t have a final accounting for 2017 yet. We again expect that we will end 2017 in the black, as we have always done during our 14-year history. We now move into 2018 with adequate funding to maintain our expert staff and an ambitious array of projects that we hope will benefit our broad-based constituency and society as a whole.

We couldn’t do this work without your partnership, both our farmer-members and their urban allies.

Thank you for trusting us with something as important as helping protect the authenticity of our food supply, the hard-working families who produce it, and marketplace options, so we can all proactively steward the earth through our purchasing decisions.

Mark Kastel and Will Fantle,
Cofounders Read Full Article »