On February 6, 2018, the Organic Farmers Association wrote and sent a letter to the Honorable Sonny Perdue, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, regarding the National Organic Program’s (NOP) statement that “Certification of hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic operations is allowed under the USDA organic regulations, and has been since the National Organic Program began.” Click here to read full letter.
Dear Secretary Perdue;
The Organic Farmers Association (OFA) is a membership organization that represents America’s certified organic farmers. While we have supporting and organizational members, only domestic certified organic farmers vote on OFA’s policies and leadership.
At OFA, we are very concerned by the National Organic Program’s (NOP) January 25, 2018, statement that “Certification of hydroponic, aquaponic and aeroponic operations is allowed under the USDA organic regulations, and has been since the National Organic Program began.” We see this action as revisionist history, and an incorrect interpretation of organic law.
Eight members¹ of OFA’s leadership team have served on the USDA National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). We believe it is critical you are aware that the USDA has several times in the past sought guidance from the NOSB on the advisability of allowing hydroponic production to be certified organic, and every time there has been a decisive vote, the Board rejected the idea of allowing organic certification of hydroponics. These discussions and votes are documented in NOSB meeting minutes for your historical reference.
In 2010, the NOSB, by a 14 to 1 vote, recommended that hydroponic production not be allowed to be certified organic, stating “systems of crop production that eliminate soil from the system, such as hydroponics or aeroponics cannot be considered as examples of acceptable organic farming practices…due to their exclusion of the soil-plant ecology intrinsic to organic farming systems and USDA/NOP regulations governing them.”