Over the past three decades, organic food, farming, and products in the U.S. have grown into a $50-billion-a-year powerhouse, representing more than 5 percent of all retail grocery sales. This growth has been achieved with little or no help from the White House, Congress or the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and that’s been true no matter which party, Democrat or Republican, has been in power.
At current rates of growth the majority of food sales in the U.S. will be organic or 100% grass-fed within three decades. Unfortunately these current levels of growth for organic, no matter how impressive they seem, will not be enough to prevent the current (food- and farm-related) public health, environmental and climate crises from metastasizing into a full-blown catastrophe within 25 years or less. That’s why my organization, the Organic Consumers Association is organizing for what we call a Consumer and Political Revolution 2017-2020.
Although the majority of consumers—no matter whether they voted for Hillary (65 million), Trump (62 million), or stayed home and didn’t vote (92 million)—tell pollsters that they know that organic food is superior to chemical/GMO food, in terms of nutrition and environmental impact, and that they believe that pesticides, synthetic hormones, antibiotic residues and GMOs are dangerous, Congress keeps subsidizing industrial agriculture, factory farms, processed food and GMO corn-derived ethanol to the tune of billions of dollars a year. At the same time, lawmakers show little or no support for organic or transition-to-organic farmers or programs.
100% grass-fed beef and dairy products are now the fastest growing segment of grocery store sales. Yet most grass-fed beef and cheese is imported from overseas (Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay) for the most part because here in the U.S., the USDA subsidizes factory-farm meat and animal products, rather than helping U.S. ranchers, farmers and processors move toward grass-fed, pasture-based, and regenerative production.
The Obama Administration behaved very much like the Bush Administration before it, providing little or no support for organic farming while touting the supposed benefits of GMOs, hi-tech agriculture, ethanol and agribusiness-friendly free trade agreements. Despite promises made in 2007 on the campaign trail that his administration would require mandatory labels on GMOs, Obama did nothing. In 2016, when Congress (including a number of recent Trump cabinet appointees) rammed through the controversial Roberts/Stabenow/Pompeo Dark Act, taking away the rights of states to require mandatory GMO labeling, Obama remained silent—instead of using his veto power.