Cornucopia’s Take: The corporate takeover of organics began long before President Trump thought about running for office. Hydroponic production was allowed under previous National Organic Program director Miles McEvoy during the Obama administration, while the National Organic Standards Board was packed with corporate executives eager to grow their brands. Thus far, the Trump administration has shown no inclination to change what is already in motion.
There is one additional note about the story below. Francis Thicke has clarified his position on which he is quoted in the article:
“I did not advocate for ‘the abandonment of the National Organic Program altogether,’ as the article implies. I told the reporter clearly that the Real Organic Project is an add-on certification that will require certification in the USDA-NOP program. So, it is not about abandoning the NOP; it is about shoring up the weaknesses in the NOP due to the NOP selling out to the interests of industrial agriculture.”
Is the USDA the Latest Site of Corporate Takeover in the Trump Administration?
by Jasper Craven
Big Ag’s increasing influence has some farmers wondering whether it’s time to abandon the organic label altogether.
The US government’s organic-agriculture program isn’t exactly where you’d expect to find a nest of corporate lackeys and anti-environmental actors. And yet, at a recent meeting of the National Organic Standards Board in Jacksonville, Florida, that’s exactly what Iowa dairy farmer Francis Thicke alleged.
“Big business is taking over the USDA organic program,” Thicke said, addressing his colleagues in a speech marking his retirement. “Because the influence of money is corroding all levels of our government.”
The organic sector has exploded in recent years, as millions of Americans have shown themselves willing to fork over a bit more money on the promise of pesticide-free, high-quality food grown by well-paid farmers. According to the Organic Trade Association, organic sales jumped to $47 billion in 2016, an 8.4 percent increase from the previous year compared with the stagnant 0.6 percent growth in the food market overall. This increase in market share means new opportunities for farmers who are passionate about growing using organic methods—but it has also attracted aggressive interest from multinational food companies eager to take advantage of the profitability associated with the organic label. Organic products, once relegated to the shelves of crunchy food co-ops, now feature prominently in the portfolios of every major food corporation: Coca-Cola owns Odwalla; General Mills controls Cascadian Farm, Annie’s, and Lärabar; and grocery giants like Walmart sell USDA-certified organic products in every region of the country. Read Full Article »