Oral testimony for a transitional organic label

This oral testimony to National Organic Standards Board and USDA Organic Program was delivered in La Jolla, California on April 26, 2015.

I’m Trudy Bialic, Director of Public Affairs for PCC Natural Markets. PCC Natural Markets is a certified organic retailer doing $230 million in annual sales from 10 stores, a co-op with 55,000 active members.

In addition to our written comments submitted April 5 — I want to emphasize the need to catch up to what consumers are demanding for organic animal welfare.

Data shows organic shoppers are migrating to pastured eggs, organic or not, and to grass-fed milk and beef, organic or not, over basic organic milk and beef.

Organic is losing sales because the label doesn’t say — and doesn’t mean to say — that hens are pastured, or that the beef was grass-fed. The National Organic Program standards need to catch up.

We urge the National Organic Standards Board NOSB to institute a transitional label claim. Losing the transitional label in 2002 has strangled the domestic supply chain.

Bloomberg News reported that growing demand for organics — and the dominance of genetically engineered corn and soy in the U.S. — is driving a surge in organic imports.
It quoted the national Corn Growers Association, saying although organic corn sells at three times the price for conventional, lower yields and the three-year transition period makes it not worth the headache or the cost for most farmers. I’m sharing a copy of this Bloomberg News report for your convenience (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-04-15/romanian-corn-imports-to-u-s-surge-as-shoppers-demand-organic).

We can fix that by allowing a transitional label. It would be good for farmers, and consumers who want to help grow the supply chain. If we can’t help producers get to the next step, we all lose.

Thank you for the opportunity to comment.

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