Posts Tagged NOP

Origin of Livestock Rule Crawls Through Regulatory Mire

Tuesday, August 27th, 2019

The crisis in organic dairy is ongoing, with many family scale organic farms barely staying afloat or already out of business.

Source: Taylor Bennett, Flickr

Ethical farmers believe this crisis is perpetuated by differing applications of the “origin of livestock” rules in the organic standards. And some certifiers do appear to allow their dairy clients to game the system.

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Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule would have clarified this issue in 2018, but that proposed rule was withdrawn by the Trump administration, apparently in favor of agribusiness interests.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.

Dairy consumers can help by using Cornucopia’s Organic Dairy Scorecard to support ethical family farmers.

Interested readers who want to learn more about the origin of livestock issue can also check out Cornucopia’s comprehensive report: The Industrialization of Organic Dairy.


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 »

NOP Allows Glyphosate in “Organic” Hydroponic Production

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

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.

Hydroponic Greenhouse

Source: AdobeStock

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.


Real Organic Project Weekly Email
by Dave Chapman, Real Organic Project Executive Director

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 »