Opinion/Editorial Archive

Hydroponic Lobby Seeks to Rewrite Organic Rules

Tuesday, July 25th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: Giant “organic” hydroponic growers, alongside “organic” CAFO operators, are pressing for relaxed regulations. They have called for technological advancements in organics while they refuse to disclose what they fertilize their plants with. Cornucopia stands firm with organic farmers: organic is rooted in soil. For more, visit Can a Soil-less Growing System be “Organic”?

Coalition For Sustainable Profits declares war on National Organic Program at US Senate
Keep the Soil in Organic
by Dave Chapman, Long Wind Farm

Theo Crisantes says it is time to limit the power of the NOSB.

Anne MacMillan, in red, was Deputy Chief of Staff
to former Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack,
and she deserves a raise.
Source: USDA

Another blow against Real Organic came last week with the Senate testimony of the misnamed Coalition For Sustainable Organics, which I will henceforth refer to as the Coalition for Sustainable Profits. Only through the extraordinary success of their latest and most expensive lobbyist, Anne MacMillan, was the Coalition able to testify before Congress twice in the last month.

Senate Agriculture Chairman Roberts said at the hearing that the federal National Organic Standards Board and organic regulations were rife with “uncertainty and dysfunction,” and asked “producers” for recommendations on how to improve the advisory board. Read Full Article »

2018 Farm Bill May Include “NOSB Reforms” Benefiting Industrial Organics

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: Natural Grocers’ Alan Lewis recently visited Capitol Hill to discuss the upcoming Farm Bill with lawmakers. He shares his experience, insight, and disturbing commentary below about what this may mean for organic food and agriculture.

Will Coming “Reforms” at the USDA Spell the End of Organic?
by Alan Lewis

Source: Douglas Simkin

Back Room “Reform” of the National Organic Standards Board May Be a Direct Threat to Organic Integrity.

I spent a week on Capitol Hill recently, during which I spoke with over two dozen congressional staffers and lawmakers about the upcoming 2018 Farm Bill. With about 400 days to go before the 2012 Farm Bill funding ends, everyone in the food/agriculture/nutrition arena is focused on negotiating to protect their favorite programs. Senator Roberts (R-KS), the dean of farming in the Senate, has stated there will be no added funding. If you want something new, then first find something someone else can do without. The Trump Administration has, of course, threatened a budget with hefty reductions in spending for both rural safety net (crop insurance, price supports) and urban safety net (SNAP, school nutrition) spending.

In May, the USDA began an agency reform initiative to cut out unnecessary spending and streamline regulation. These appear to be a code phrases for dismantling many longstanding programs that big agriculture can do without, but that smallholders are too disorganized and powerless to fight for. Read Full Article »

NODPA Responds to Washington Post Article on Fake Organic Milk

Wednesday, May 10th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: Ethical family-scale organic dairy farmers are concerned that the Aurora Dairy scandal will tarnish, in the eyes of consumers, the organic milk they produce in accordance with federal organic standards.  Dairy farmer Liz Bawden airs her concerns here. As a consumer, you can find the best organic brands in the grocery store using our dairy scorecard as a guide.

I am an organic dairy farmer and I want to tell my story

Liz Bawden, New York organic dairy farmer and President of the Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance

Liz Bawden
Source: NODPA

A consumer reads “Why Your Organic Milk May Not Be Organic” on the front page of their newspaper.  That might be the end consumer for the milk from my farm.  And that person is sitting in front of a bowl of cornflakes wondering if she has been scammed all this time.  Just a little doubt that the organic seal may not mean what she thought it meant.  That is real damage to my farm and family income.  And I want to tell my story to that consumer; I want to tell her about our pastures, and soil fertility ideas, and how we know each cow by name, and how we source organic seeds, feed, and herbal remedies.  Because she needs to know that there is value and integrity in the organic product we provide. Read Full Article »

Agroecology May be the Big Answer

Friday, May 5th, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: Farm incomes are likely to drop again this year, while concerns about water pollution, soil loss, and soil contamination grow. Cornucopia supports diversified land management, which can help farmers and the environment alike.

by Andrea Basche and Marcia DeLonge

Agroecology can help fix the food, water and energy challenges that conventional agriculture has created.

Editor’s note: This Voices contribution is published in collaboration with the academic journal Elementa. It is based on “Leveraging agroecology for solutions in food, energy and water,” a peer-reviewed article published March 2, 2017, as part of Elementa’s Food-Energy-Water Systems: Opportunities at the Nexus forum.

Source: Pablo Peiker

The past several years have been rough for many U.S. farmers and ranchers. Net farm incomes this year could fall to 50 percent of 2013 levels in a fourth consecutive year of income declines that is leading some producers to seek alternatives. At the same time, rural and urban Americans share growing concerns related to agriculture: worries that water pollution will be increasingly costly and harmful, that water supplies are at risk from extreme swings in rainfall, and that global warming due to fossil fuel burning threatens our food system and will necessitate changes in how we farm. Read Full Article »

A Farmer’s View of the NOSB Meeting in Denver

Monday, May 1st, 2017

Cornucopia’s Take: Dave Chapman of Long Wind Farm in Vermont attended the recent National Organic Standards Board meeting. We share his thoughts on events there, and the history leading to them, below.

Is healthy soil important?
by Dave Chapman

Dave Chapman testifies at the
NOSB meeting in Denver

“Finally, the soul of organics is at stake. This process will institutionalize the word ‘organic’ within the U.S. government. And if this process proves to be too onerous or false, the soul of organics will be lost. Then, those who love organics will have two choices: to reclaim the word and concept, or find new words and concepts. The future will determine this.”

– Michael Sligh in the article “Toward Organic Integrity”  in 1997.

I start this letter with Michael Sligh, a widely respected voice in the organic community. He was the first chairperson of the NOSB many years ago, and he continues to this day to work for strong organic standards and social justice for all in the farming world. Eliot Coleman recently sent me these prophetic words Michael wrote twenty years ago. They were not written about any specific issue, but rather about whether the USDA would prove worthy of being our partner in the organic movement. That question looms large these days as we debate CAFO animals, dubious grain imports, and hydroponic fruits and vegetables all under the aegis of the National Organic Program. Read Full Article »