Is the National Organic Program (NOP) doing a good job of fulfilling its stated mission: developing and enforcing “uniform national standards for organically-produced agricultural products sold in the United States?”
That’s debatable. And so the question of organic standards enforcement was debated—last month, during the Northeast Organic Farmers Association (NOFA) conference in Amherst, Mass.
Johanna Mirenda, Organic Trade Association policy director, and Dave Chapman, farmer and Real Organic Project executive director, went head-to-head on what the NOP is doing right, and what it’s doing wrong.
Demand for organic food is trending up. In 2018, U.S. sales of organic food hit $47.9 billion, up 5.9 percent from 2017. That’s a good thing.
But as demand for organic grows, so grows the number of companies that want a piece of that pie—and are willing to flout organic rules to get it. That’s a problem for the “real” organic producers whose prices are undercut by the fraudsters. And it’s a problem for consumers, who get cheated.
As Chapman says:
“Consumers are being misled. Do we participate in the fraud? Or do we say what we know is the truth?”
OCA was founded out of the need to protect organic standards. We still believe it’s a cause worth fighting for.