Oppose changes that undermine the NOSB

 

The Honorable Pat Roberts Chairman,
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
328A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

 

The Honorable Debbie Stabenow Ranking Member,
Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry
328A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

 

 

Dear Chairman Roberts and Ranking Member Stabenow,

On behalf of our millions of members, supporters, or customers, the undersigned organizations and companies are writing to urge you to fully support organic agriculture in the Farm Bill and to oppose any changes that would undermine the organic standards and the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).

Consumer confidence in the integrity of the USDA organic seal is a key driving factor in the exponential growth in the organic sector. Making changes to the authorities or composition of the NOSB could harm the integrity of the organic program, undermine consumer trust in the organic label, and severely damage the reputation of the industry as a whole.

Organic farming is a bright spot in the U.S. rural economy. Data show that organic farms are 35 percent more profitable than the average farm and that rural counties with a high level of organic farms and businesses have higher household incomes and reduced poverty rates by as much as 1.35 percent, even more than major anti-poverty programs.1,2 Domestically, the organic sector is home to over 26,000 certified organic family farms and businesses.

A growing body of research demonstrates that organic farming systems provide an impressive range of conservation benefits. Organic farms support 50 percent more pollinator species, sequester carbon in the soil, and deliver greater resilience in the face of climate-related weather impacts like drought and floods by improving soil structure and soil water-holding capacity.3,4,5

Research also shows that organic food and farming reduce human exposure to toxic pesticides for consumers, farmers, farmworkers, and rural communities.6

The number of organic consumers is steadily growing. Data shows that over 80 percent of U.S. households buy organic food, and the demographics of organic buyers matches the diversity of the American population. Organic remains the fastest-growing sector of the food industry — while the overall food market experiences a stagnant 0.6 percent growth rate, organic sales grew 8.4 percent from 2016 to 2017.

Yet, domestic production is not keeping up with this booming consumer demand. The U.S. accounts for 44 percent of global organic sales, but just four percent of global farmland under organic production. Approximately 25 percent of organic corn and 75 percent of organic soybeans used in the country are imported. U.S. farmers are losing out on the chance to feed Americans’ growing appetite for organic food.

At a time when so many farmers and rural communities across America are struggling, we need more policy support for organic agriculture.

First and foremost, the undersigned organizations and companies urge you to oppose any changes that would undermine the National Organic Standards Board in the Farm Bill.

We also urge you to:
Fully fund the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program which encourages small and mid-size farmers to transition to organic and helps farmers afford organic certification;

Increase funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) to $50 million annually. Organic and non-organic farmers alike benefit from this research. For example, cover cropping is standard practice on organic farms but has been widely adopted by non-organic farms as well;

Fully fund the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), the nation’s largest conservation program by acreage and a critically important program that supports organic farmers. CSP is the only Farm Bill program focused on advancing conservation systems to comprehensively protect natural resources, including soil health, water quality, and wildlife habitat;

Equalize payment limits under the Organic Initiative within the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP OI), to ensure equal opportunity for organic farmers to participate in this key conservation program;

Devote $50 million annually to public plant and animal breeding programs focused on developing regionally adapted cultivars and animal breeds that are suited to farmers’ local growing conditions, changing climates, and farming systems. The funding should come from existing USDA competitive grant research programs and a coordinator should be appointed to oversee these efforts;

Create a level playing field for U.S. organic family farms by increasing funding for the National Organic Program, providing funding to improve import data tracking, and creating better mechanisms to ensure that all organic imports comply with U.S. standards; and

Provide $5 million in one-time mandatory Farm Bill funding for the Organic Data Initiative to ensure consistent and reliable data about production and sales trends.

Organic farmers and businesses depend on consumer trust in the organic seal and support from the programs outlined above. We urge you to uphold the integrity of the organic standard by opposing any changes that would undermine the National Organic Standards Board and to fully fund the critical research, marketing, and conservation agriculture programs that are needed to grow the American organic sector.

Thank you,

Friends of the Earth – National
Accredited Certifiers Association – National
Beyond Pesticides – National
Blue River Organic Seeds – National
Center for Biological Diversity – National
Center for Food Safety – National
Endangered Species Coalition – National
Fair World Project – National
Family Farm Defenders – National
Farm Aid – National
Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance – National
Food & Water Watch – National
Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) – National
HEAL Food Alliance – National
National Organic Coalition – National
Natural Grocers – National
Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance – National
OneCert, Inc. – National
Organic & Natural Health Association – National
Organic Farmers Association – National
Organic Seed Alliance – National
Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) – National
Pesticide Action Network – National
Rachel Carson Council – National
Rural Coalition – National
Sierra Club – National
Sisters of Mercy South Central Community – National
Wild Farm Alliance – National
Farmworker Justice – National
Grow Ahead – National
Organic Consumers Association – National
Nature’s Path Foods Inc. – BC – British Columbia
Center for Environmental Health – California
Dietrick Institute for Applied Insect Ecology – California
Edible East Bay Magazine – California
Rincon-Vitova Insectaries – California
Double M Dairy LLC – California
Dr. Bronner’s – California
Straus Family Creamery – California
Lady Moon Farms, Inc. – Flordia, Georgia, Pennsylvania
Catalyst Miami – Florida
Farmworker Association of Florida – Florida
Florida Immigrant Coalition (FLIC) – Florida
Florida School of Holistic Living – Florida
Friends of Miami-Dade Detainees – Florida
Gainesville Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice – Florida
Hispanic Federation – Florida
Latin American Coalition – Florida
Organize Florida – Florida
SEIU Florida Public Services Union – Florida
WeCount! – Florida
Central Florida Bread for the World – Florida
Kanalani Ohana Farm – Hawaii
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America – Illinois
Edible Indy – Indiana
Buckhaven Ridge Farm – Iowa
Eco Lips, Inc – Iowa
FarmTable Procurement and Delivery – Iowa
Garden on Garden – Iowa
Green Vale Farm – Iowa
Hidden Acres Organic – Iowa
Iowa Organic Association – Iowa
Lenz Organic Farm – Iowa
Lyn Farm – Iowa
Okoboji Organics – Iowa
Red Barn Organic – Iowa
Redeemed Farms LLC – Iowa
Reinert Farms Inc. – Iowa
Stonebridge Ltd – Iowa
Thorland Organics, LLC – Iowa
Tigner Consulting – Iowa
Narrow Gate Farm – Iowa
Orchard On Sand Road – Iowa
Cottonwood Creek Farms – Kansas
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association – Maine
Portland Food Co-op – Maine
Butterfly Brigade – Maryland
Central Maryland Beekeepers Association – Maryland
Fair Farms – Maryland
Maryland Pesticide Education Network – Maryland
Maryland Ornithological Society – Maryland
Equal Exchange Inc – Massachusetts
Leverett Village Co-operative – Massachusetts
Northeast Organic Farming Association – Interstate Council – Massachusetts
Northeast Organic Farming Association – Massachusetts – Massachusetts
Wild Oats Market – Massachusetts
Dream Acres Farm – Michigan
Ecology Center – Michigan
Edible Grande Traverse – Michigan
Field & Fire LLC – Michigan
Happy Homestead Farm – Michigan
Local Food Alliance of Northern Michigan – Michigan
Making Shade Farms – Michigan
Marilla Field & Flora – Michigan
Michigan State University Extension – Michigan
Michigan Young Farmer Coalition – Michigan
New Bee Apiaries, LLC – Michigan
Perich Advertising and Design – Michigan
Skinny Farm Co-op – Michigan
Sleeping Bear Press – Michigan
Songbird Farm – Michigan
Tamarack Camps Farber Farm – Michigan
Edible Michiana – Michigan & Indiana
Old Mill Honey Company – Minesota
Albert Lea Seed – Minnesota
Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture – Minnesota
Suståne Natural Fertilizer Inc – Minnesota
International Organic Inspectors Association – Montana
Organic Aronia Farm – Nebraska
OPINS Coop – Nebraska, Iowa, South Dakota, Kansas
Northeast Organic Farming Association – New Hampshire
GMO Free NJ – New Jersey
Northeast Organic Farming Association – New Jersey New Jersey
Cuatro Puertas – New Mexico
Church Women United in New York State – New York
DRUM: Desis Rising Up and Moving – New York
Global Justice Ecology Project – New York
Green Beacon Coalition – New York
Hudson Valley Biofuel – New York
LaBella Associates – New York
Made Safe – New York
Northeast Organic Farming Association – New York
Partnership for Community Development – New York
Regional Farm and Food Project – New York
Neighboring Food Co-op Association – New York & New England
Carolina Farm Stewardship Association – North and South Carolina
Nuestro Centro – North Carolina
Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group – Northeast
Levin Family Foundation – Ohio
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association – Ohio
Three Springs Farm – Oklahoma
Oregon Tilth – Oregon
Ridgeline Meadows Farm – Oregon
Beyond Toxics – Oregon
BJE Poultry – Pennsylvania
Kovar Organic Equipment LLC – Pennsylvania
New England Farmers Union – Regional
Hunger Mountain Cooperative – Vermont
Middlebury Natural Foods Co-op – Vermont
Northeast Organic Farming Association – Vermont
Diane’s Market Kitchen LLC – Washington
PCC Community Markets – Washington
Dammen Organic Farms – Wisconsin
Edible Door – Wisconsin
FairShare CSA Coalition – Wisconsin
Midwest Organic Services Association – Wisconsin


  1. Kantor, Sylvia. 2015. Organic agriculture more profitable to farmers. Washington State University Insider. June 1. https://news.wsu.edu/2015/06/01/organic-agriculture-more-profitable-to-farmers/
  2. Organic Trade Association. Organic Hotpots. https://www.ota.com/hotspots
  3. University of Oxford. Organic farms support more species. 2014. February 4 http://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2014-02-04-organic-farms-support-more-species
  4. The Organic Center. Breakthrough study shows organic cuts agriculture’s contribution to climate change. 2017. September 11. https://www.organic-center.org/humicrelease/
  5. Ferris, Robert. 2014. Organic farming more drought resistant. CNBC. December 9. https://www.cnbc.com/2014/12/09/rought-resistant-report.html
  6. Bradman, A., et al., Effect of organic diet intervention on pesticide exposures in young children living in low-income urban and agricultural communities. Environ Health Perspectives. 2015.

Related Reading

Fund organic to meet market demand

Joined more than 177 other businesses in a strong, positive message to USDA Secretary Perdue and Members of Congress to protect funding for programs that benefit organic agriculture and the organic industry.