Organic is an industry, a community, and a movement. The organic industry, which is built by the organic community on the shoulders of the organic movement, has grown to more than $60 billion per year. It provides an opportunity for farmers to prosper at a sustainable scale, but only as long as organic agriculture policy represents the best in sustainable production.
The organic community includes OEFFA Certification (one of the country’s oldest and largest organic certification agencies), nearly 1,200 organic farms and operations certified by OEFFA, and more than 27,500 certified organic businesses across the U.S. Additionally, OEFFA partners with the National Organic Coalition, the Organic Farmers Association, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), the Real Organic Project, the Organic Farming Research Foundation, and many others to help maintain and improve the integrity of organic agriculture.
Most importantly, the organic movement includes you! Since OEFFA’s founding, our members have been leaders in shaping organic agriculture policy and creating and improving the federal organic standards. We have resources to help you make your voice heard and grow your organic business. Contact us to learn more!
Organic Agriculture Fosters Ecological Balance
Organic agriculture provides a multitude of benefits to farmers, farm workers, our communities, and our natural world. It is a time-tested, scientifically-supported, whole-farm approach to agriculture that centers ecological diversity, soil fertility, and natural systems. It respects and enhances the health of the land, people, and natural world, all of which have intrinsic value.
Farmers who use organic and sustainable practices are stewards for future generations. Their practices enhance soil health, improve water holding capacity and infiltration, and conserve biodiversity. What’s more, organic agriculture both decreases greenhouse gas emissions and increases crop resilience to droughts and extreme weather.
At the same time, organic is the most well-regulated ecological label available on the market today. Rigorous national standards ensure transparency and accountability.
Standing Up for the Integrity of the Organic Label
The Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 created a National Organic Program (NOP) within the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides a consistent framework and third-party certification system for products labeled “organic.”
The national organic standards are built on the shoulders of indigenous practices and informed by decades of farmer experience.
Nevertheless, maintaining the integrity of the organic label involves ongoing work. The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) was created to provide independent oversight of the NOP. The NOSB makes recommendations on the production, handling, and processing of organic products.
The NOSB accepts comments from the organic community twice each year and your voice is important to maintain a strong organic program that consumers can trust.
OEFFA helps farmers attend NOSB meetings and provide comments to the board during webinars and in writing. In addition, we encourage farmers to send us their input, which we can include in OEFFA’s comments to the NOSB.
When the NOSB hears directly from farmers, they listen. Contact us to be part of the movement!
Investing in Organic Agriculture and Climate Solutions
Farmer and consumer interest in this voluntary, market-based option is growing across the country despite organic and transitioning producers receiving minimal support from state and federal agriculture programs and land grant universities.
Organic research coupled with strong Extension services supports good farming practices that help ALL growers increase profitability, protect our environment, and support healthy communities.
For our food security, we must also invest in research on organic’s potential to aid in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Key research programs include the Economic Research Service, the Agricultural Research Service, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
Likewise, OEFFA members also advocate for transition mentorship programs and increasing the number of dedicated Extension staff trained in organic.
Finally, the organic movement supports paying farmers who implement sustainable practices that help create a more resilient agriculture system.
Soil is the Foundation of Organic
Soil is the basis of organic farming systems. Healthy soils are key to biodiversity, nutrient-rich foods, and climate resilience. OEFFA and other soil-based certification organizations have developed a position statement about how Organic Agriculture is Soil Based.
OEFFA’s Grain Growers Chapter and other members are the heart of the movement and our grassroots organic agriculture policy work. Contact us to learn more about how you can join the farmers below in being a strong voice for organic!
Organic grain farmers, like Angela Schriver, are active in providing comments to the NOSB. Angela has spoken about the need to get tough on fraudulent organic imports by implementing a long-awaited Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule.
Organic farmers, like Scott Myers, are calling for climate change solutions. He has led OEFFA conference workshops, spoken with the media, and hosted on-farm soil health events highlighting practices that sequester carbon.
OEFFA helps organic farmers, like Kip Rondy (pictured right) attend NSAC farmer fly-ins and National Organic Standards Board meetings, so they can share their feedback and help to keep the organic standards strong.
Local food business owner Abbe Turner has spoken about the need to invest in research programs, like ATTRA and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program, which help support organic and small-scale farmers.
The USDA’s new Organic Transition Initiative will build on OEFFA’s organic transition leadership, which has included offering technical service providers and forming an organic transition support group to train the trainers.
The initiative will provide direct farming training, education, outreach, and paid mentorship networks; support for organic market development; and create new NRCS Organic Management practices that will allow more transitioning producers to receive financial and technical assistance.
For more than a decade, organic advocates have called on the USDA to finalize the Organic Livestock and Poultry Practices rule, which would help protect organic animal welfare.
OEFFA submitted comments to the USDA in October 2022, championing swift implementation of the standards.
There will be another comment period once the rule is finalized. Contact us to share your input or for support submitting your own comments.
First proposed in 2015, the USDA has recently finalized new organic dairy rules, needed to create a fairer marketplace for organic dairy producers.
At last, the new rule closes the ‘Origin of Livestock’ loopholes that have given bad actors an unfair advantage and caused economic distress for family-scale organic dairy producers. Accordingly, the rule will create greater consistency in how dairy animals are transitioned into organic production.