Under pressure from organic dairy farmers, farmer and consumer groups, and Congress, the National Organic Program (NOP) recently re-opened the comment period for the 2015 proposed rule on Origin of Livestock.
Despite overwhelming support in 2015 for closing this loophole via the proposed Origin of Livestock Rule, the USDA has yet to publish a final rule. As it languishes, authentic organic dairy farmers are being undercut in the marketplace by factory farms whose certifiers interpret unclear regulations to their economic advantage. As a result, many authentic organic dairies have closed their doors. Most organic consumers are unaware of the bait and switch.
Your public comments matter. Let the NOP know that they must issue a final rule immediately to prevent the continuous conversion of conventional dairy animals into organic herds. Read more about the origin of livestock issue.
Offending dairies sell their certified organic calves for top dollar and buy cheap conventional heifers that are transitioned to organic over one year. This practice gives dairies a financial leg up because it allows them to sell the organic milk produced, instead of feeding it to baby calves.
The long-awaited Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule would have clarified this issue in 2018, but that proposed rule was withdrawn by the Trump administration, apparently in favor of agribusiness interests. A final rule remains on the horizon, despite dire reports from authentic organic dairy farmers.
Small Organic Dairy Farmers Say the Rules are Stacked Against Them. One Rule in Particular. The Origin of Livestock rule is being applied in different ways by different certifiers, which producers and advocates say gives an unfair advantage to large dairies. Civil Eats by Lisa Held
Organic dairy farmers are often isolated and don’t get to connect to each other, said Liz Pickard, a farmer at Twin Oaks Dairy in Truxton, New York. But right now, when they do, the National Organic Program’s (NOP) “Origin of Livestock” rule is a hot topic.
“Everyone’s talking about it. It’s a huge deal,” she said on a recent phone call from her farm, as she cursed a stalled tractor. “This is probably one of the biggest things that’s putting a drag on the milk market right now.” Read Full Article »
Cornucopia’s Take: The Real Organic Project has brought to light a shocking practice in large-scale, “organic,” hydroponic production. Many of these facilities are being built on land that has been compacted and doused with herbicides, including glyphosate. While the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) uncomfortably insists that this practice is legal because the prohibited substances never touch the plants, most organic producers and eaters would agree that it is antithetical to real organic principles.
The regulation found at §205.202, for example, requires that land from which crops are intended to be sold must “have had no prohibited substance… applied to it for a period of 3 years immediately preceding harvest of the crop…” It is unclear how the NOP can work around this regulatory language—and other precepts of organic production—and still maintain these practices are legal. One explanation is that the NOP and their lawyers are willing to bend over backward to accommodate industrial-organic practices.
Cornucopia and our supporters care about organic food for many reasons. We enjoy the quality of real organic food, and we know that healthy soil grows healthy plants, resulting in nutrient-dense crops. Truly organic practices also recognize that the land, nature, and humans can work together to produce a thriving system that also supports local communities economically.
The NOP continues to assert that hydroponic, aquaponic, and aeroponic production is allowed—and always has been. Their assertion shows that organic law is vulnerable to legal arguments and creative corporate loopholes. Real organic farmers continue to lose their markets to industrial-organic producers whose practices compromise the health of the soil, water, and livestock, as well as the quality of our food.
Consumers also have a right to know how their food is produced and how its production impacts the real world. Supporting real organic represents a vote for truth and transparency in a marketplace where regulators seem determined to confuse and muddy the waters.
Our Hydroponic Buyer’s Guide outs some of the major “organic” hydroponic brands. These products are far cheaper than soil-grown organic foods—and you get what you pay for.
Cornucopia will continue to watchdog the NOP and the organic industry, and we will continue to provide information to consumers about what organic really means.
A few weeks ago I got to ask an important question of Jennifer Tucker, the head of the National Organic Program (NOP).
“I have received reports from both Florida and California of hydroponic berry operations that are spraying herbicide, immediately covering the ground with plastic, putting pots down and then getting certified the next week.” Read Full Article »