Posts Tagged organic

Action Alert: Origin of Livestock Rulemaking Re-Opened for Comment

Friday, November 22nd, 2019

Comment by December 2

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.

Read the proposed rule and submit your comments
(Docket No. AMS-NOP-11-0009)
by 11:59 p.m. ET, December 2, 2019 Read Full Article »

Commercial Agriculture Research Finds Chemicals Are Better for the Environment?

Wednesday, November 6th, 2019

Hardly surprising.

Source: Tobias Nordhausen, Flickr

You may have seen the study suggesting that organic agriculture actually creates more greenhouse gas emissions than conventional agriculture. The Cornucopia Institute has observed research on this topic often comes from an industrial agriculture viewpoint. For more on this issue, read “Big Ag’s Long Arms in Scientific Research.

We believe the research published in Nature Communications in October 2019 is based on this biased viewpoint. The researchers did not consider all of the factors involved in greenhouse gas emissions—nor do they claim to. The study has been sensationalized (or weaponized, depending on your background) in the press.

This article in Organic Insider, written by former New York Times food business reporter Stephanie Strom, sheds some light on the research claims. Organic remains the most environmentally friendly food production method with third-party verification.


Why Claims That Organic is Worse for the Environment Do Not Hold Up
Organic Insider
by Stephanie Strom

Dominating the headlines recently has been a study out of the UK which claims that organic farming is bad for the environment.

Not exactly.

In the report, which assesses the potential changes to net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions if England and Wales shifted to 100% organic food production, it clearly acknowledges that organic farming might contribute to a reduction in GHG emissions “through decreased use of farm inputs and increased soil carbon sequestration.”

Nonetheless, the authors contend that organic’s positive environmental impact “must be set against the need for increased production and associated land conversion elsewhere as a result of lower crop and livestock yields under organic methods.” Read Full Article »

Renaissance Family

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

The Prevailing Winds of Weatherbury Farm

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

by Rachel Zegerius, Assistant Director of Development and Communications at The Cornucopia Institute

Nestled in the tightly woven hills of the Washington Valley, 35 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, rest the rolling pastures of Weatherbury Farm, purchased by the Tudor family in 1986. Historically a sheep farm, in the mid-1800s this region produced one-quarter to one-third of all of the wool in the U.S. The Tudors still keep a small herd of 10 to 15 lambs in homage to this agricultural heritage.

It took only one season at Weatherbury for the Tudor family to decide that they wanted to seek out alternative farming practices, in contrast the high-input methods being advocated for by extension.

From Left: Nigel, Nancy, and Dale Tudor
exhibit flours in the mill room at
Weatherbury Farm

Both Dale and Marcy came from multigenerational farm families. They remember the days: their parents didn’t spend a lot of money on fertilizers; they spread manure and made hay—an approach that may be considered “regenerative” farming today. So, in 1988, they stopped using chemical inputs altogether.

Over the next several years, the Tudors raised a family on the farm, built a successful cow/calf operation, and ran a rewarding agritourism business—all while also hosting an on-site, farm education program. Weatherbury offered farm vacation stays as a bed and breakfast for 25 years, from 1992 until 2017.

In large part, the Tudors have kept the farm economically viable over the years because of their unique proclivity to adapt, evolve, and grow access to new niche markets.

This continuous innovation sets Weatherbury Farm apart and is personified earnestly by their son, Nigel. His decision to move back to the farm opened the door for their expansion into grass-fed beef in 2007. Read Full Article »

Certifying Small Farms

Tuesday, October 8th, 2019

The Challenges and How Consumers Can DIY

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

Source: Adobe Stock

Farmers markets are in full swing. Whenever possible, we urge consumers to support certified organic farm vendors first. But not all small-scale farmers choose to certify. To help determine if these non-certified farms still meet your standards, Cornucopia released our Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Organic Certification Guide.

Many local farms who sell direct to consumers, either at markets or through CSAs, have chosen not to go through the organic certification process. In some cases, the challenges and obstacles inherent in the certification process are prohibitive and do not serve small farmers.

While Cornucopia advocates unequivocally for organic foods and organic farmers, it is important that we recognize and explore these issues within the certification process. Michael Losonsky, the owner of a small organic vineyard in McMinnville, Oregon, spoke with us to help us understand his situation. Read Full Article »

What’s In Your Pantry?

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2019

Cornucopia Wants to Know 

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

by Anne Ross, JD, Director of International Policy at The Cornucopia Institute

For Cornucopia’s team, every workday reminds us of our mission to safeguard organic integrity. This mission is built on values we share with each other, our members, and an increasing number of consumers all over the world.

Source: AdobeStock

Our work has always included an emphasis on consumer education. Whether it’s about organic food production, products available in the marketplace, or the personal stories of the hard-working farmers who produce our organic food, Cornucopia’s goal remains the same.

We strive to ensure the organic label represents all that it promises. But some producers offer more transparency and integrity to consumers than others. While we maintain organic is always a better option than conventional, we aim to highlight the organic products that are truly exceptional.

Our reports and scorecards give consumers the tools they need to support organic brands that meet their expectations. With these objectives in mind, we need your input! We want to know which products you’d like to learn more about and those you would like to see rated. Read Full Article »