Cornucopia News Archive

Unchartered Waters

Wednesday, April 26th, 2017

Will the Trump/Perdue USDA Defend or Kill Organics?

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

by Mark Kastel, Codirector at The Cornucopia Institute

Source: Adobe Stock

President Trump named former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue as his pick to head up what President Lincoln called “the People’s Department”—the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Perdue (no relation to the giant Perdue poultry company) holds a doctorate in veterinary medicine, grew up on a farm, and ran a small fertilizer business before running for elected office. When he left the governor’s office in 2011, Perdue’s agricultural involvement shifted to ownership in crop export companies, farm transportation, and grain/feed processing.

During his political career he accepted $328,000 in campaign donations from agribusiness interests according to published reports. Read Full Article »

Follow the National Organic Standards Board Meeting in Denver, CO #NOSB

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Last Updated: April 21, 2017 at 1:45PM CT

Join The Cornucopia Institute as we live tweet from the National Organic Standards Board meeting in Denver, Colorado. We will be sharing the play by play with our Twitter followers under #NOSB or simply follow our stream.

For background on issues up for discussion at the meeting, see:

  • The Cornucopia Institute’s written public comments to the NOSB
  • A summary of public comments at the NOSB’s pre-meeting webinar
  • A recap of public comments from the non-profit community on NOSB issues
  • A scorecard rating NOSB member voting records on contentious organic issues

You can also stay updated throughout the meeting right here:

National Organic Standards Board poses for a photo
From left to right, with affiliations: Miles McEvoy (NOP), Steve Ela (farmer), Sue Baird (consumer/public interest), Joelle Mosso (handler/processor), Asa Bradman (environmentalist), and Dr. David Mortensen (scientist).

The five new members of the NOSB will serve five year terms on the 15-member NOSB.

Friday, April 21, 2017

1:35PM CT: The NOSB meeting is closed after each subcommittee reviewed their upcoming workplans (linked to from this page) and including a discussion document for organic seed purity from GMOs in the fall.

1:22PM CT: Moving onto other issues, the NOSB, by unanimous vote, passes a resolution urging the Secretary to allow the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule to become effective on May 19, 2017 without further delay. Congress and the Secretary shouldn’t see this rule as a political issue because farmers and consumers represent the full spectrum of political lines. Read Full Article »

Denver USDA Meeting Will Help Decide Organic Future

Sunday, April 16th, 2017

Farmers, Consumers, Nonprofits Challenge Mounting Agribusiness Dominance

Will Industrial-Scale Hydroponic (soil-less) Production or Allowing Plastic Contamination of Organic Farmland be Sanctioned?

NOSB Deliberations at the Fall 2016 Meeting

Advocates for organic food and farming are, increasingly, victims of their own success. Over the past 25 years, this grassroots movement has morphed into a $43 billion industry, turning the biannual National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meetings into a struggle between representatives of organic farmers and consumers and powerful agribusiness lobbyists. The spring meeting in Denver starts on April 19 and could decide who influences the regulations that determine the working definition of the USDA’s organic seal.

On the meeting’s docket is the highly controversial question of whether to legalize hydroponic production of organic fruits and vegetables, which are generally grown in industrial-scale greenhouses with liquid fertilizer instead of nutrient-rich soil. Also up for debate will be allowing “biodegradable” plastic mulch, without scientific evidence to assure organic consumers that toxic and synthetic residues left in the soil will not end up in organic crops or negatively impact the environment. Read Full Article »

Community Supported Agriculture

Monday, April 10th, 2017

How to Choose a Farm Share

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

by Linley Dixon, Ph.D, Farm and Food Policy Analyst at The Cornucopia Institute

Source: Adobe Stock

Congratulations, you’ve decided it’s time to join a CSA, arguably the best way to support local, diversified food production!

For the uninitiated, CSAs allow you to purchase a share in a local farm. In exchange for your investment, you receive a weekly portion of the farm’s harvest throughout a season, generally worth more than, or equal to, your payment.

Though the concept can be individually adapted to unique farms and communities, there are certain fundamental principles that every authentic CSA shares.

Subscribing to a CSA ensures that farmers, rather than companies that transport, process, and market food, receive the full value of the cost of the share. In return, customers become connected to the farm and the community. Read Full Article »

Organic Industry Watchdog Wins Major Antitrust Victory

Friday, March 31st, 2017

France’s Groupe Danone Sheds Stonyfield in WhiteWave Acquisition
Merger would have combined Stonyfield, Horizon, and Wallaby to Dominate Organic Dairy

DanonelogoThe French dairy giant, Groupe Danone (Dannon in the U.S.), has announced an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to liquidate its holdings in the largest manufacturer of organic yogurt, Stonyfield, so that its proposed acquisition of WhiteWave Foods can move forward. The original merger deal would have combined the world’s largest organic yogurt brand, Stonyfield, with Wallaby, a rapidly growing organic yogurt label, and the nation’s largest brand of organic milk, Horizon.

In August 2016 The Cornucopia Institute, an organic industry watchdog, formally challenged the acquisition based on forecasting the serious erosion of competition it would have created in the consumer marketplace and the negative economic impact it would have on U.S. organic dairy farmers.

“In our discussions with the DOJ, and dozens of reporters in the financial press who contacted us, the operative question had always been, short of regulators killing the deal, what moves could Danone take to placate our concerns?” said Mark A. Kastel, codirector at The Cornucopia Institute.  “We openly questioned whether Danone was interested in WhiteWave because of its role in organic dairy, and the synergy of combining that with their existing holdings in Stonyfield, or if they were more interested in WhiteWave’s dominance in the growing, and more profitable, ‘plant-based’ beverage category.  This move seems to have addressed that uncertainty.” Read Full Article »