NASDA Policy Statements

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11.12. Organic Agriculture
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(Updated September 2009)

NASDA supports recommendations that enhance National Organic Standards (NOS) and the National Organic Program, (NOP) and efforts to increase growth of the organic industry. These efforts include increases in organic research and in the collection of organic production and market data. For purposes of trade, NASDA supports the establishment of bi-lateral agreements on the equivalency of organic standards provided those standards are truly equivalent.

National Organic Standards

National Organic Standards (NOS) are necessary to protect organic growers, consumers, and markets and to ensure a consistent and practical National Organic Program (NOP). A successful program, however, cannot be accomplished without adequate dependable funding and a transparent regulatory process. NASDA supports the following policies.

  • Congress should provide funding at levels to support adequate NOP staffing and activities that will accomplish regulatory intent of the NOP Final Rule;
  • Congress should direct funds to states to assist with implementation of the NOP, including consumer protection and local enforcement of standards;
  • Congress should provide permanent funding for Organic Certification Cost Share Assistance;
  • The Secretary of Agriculture should encourage and support cooperative relationships between the NOP and state departments of agriculture;
  • USDA should fully and consistently implement and enforce the National Organic Program Final Rule and its organic production and handling standards;
  • USDA should actively encourage cooperation between the NOP and experienced public and private certifying agencies when addressing the practical aspects of organic production and certification issues;
  • USDA should bring the NOP into compliance with the International Standards Organization (ISO) standards for accreditation bodies. With ISO Guide 65 standards for certifying agents embedded in the NOS, each certifier’s NOP accreditation could include ISO-65 accreditation. This action could significantly reduce the costs of accreditation for certifiers, the costs of certification for organic producers and handlers, and would improve the competitiveness of U.S. organic products in the world market.

 Organic Markets and Marketing

As with other types of agriculture, the U.S. organic farmers and businesses compete with international peers, many of whose governments encourage organic production by providing payments linked to environmental benefits they perceive from organic agriculture. NASDA supports efforts to increase the economic growth of the organic industry through the following:

  • USDA should include “organic” as a defined commodity in USDA market promotion programs. This inclusion will enable U.S. organic farmers and food companies to be more effective in production, expansion, and marketing activities, and to increase their competitiveness in the global organic market.
  • Through USDA grant initiatives and program delivery, USDA should target marketing assistance to small, medium sized, and beginning organic growers to help them capitalize on the value of their production.
  • USDA should provide adequate funding for collection and distribution of domestic organic market price data by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), or through non-governmental organizations funded by cooperative agreements with AMS.
  • Congress should encourage cooperation among federal agencies and entities such as the Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. International Trade Commission, in order to code and track organic import and export sales.

Organic Research and Education

NASDA supports increases in organic research and education.

  • Congress and the USDA should fully fund competitive grants programs contained in the 2008 Farm Bill, including the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), the Organic Transitions Research Program (which together comprise the Integrated Organic Program), the Organic Data Initiative and the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.
  • Congress should continue funding the national Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program.
  • Congress should fund the National Agriculture Library to further develop the Organic Agriculture Clearing House and the Organic Roots Database.*
  • USDA should create a permanent National Program Leader for Organic Agriculture within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.*
  • The USDA’s Research, Education and Extension agencies should cooperatively develop a roadmap for investments to address the issues facing organic agriculture.*
  • USDA should support relevant public agencies at all levels to increase professional development, service delivery, and outreach efforts to organic agriculture.

+These recommendations were included in the report resulting from a meeting of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board Work Group for Organic Agriculture held on the March 8, 2008.

Organic Data Collection and Statistics

To provide reliable information about the industry that informs decision-making by farmers, agricultural advisors, marketers, and consumers, NASDA supports the following:

  • USDA should expand collection and dissemination of organic price data for commodity crops, specialty crops, and retail organic sales.
  • USDA should pursue efforts to meaningfully reform the premiums and price elections in federal crop insurance programs in order to render participation more equitable for certified organic producers.
  • The National Agricultural Statistics Service and state agricultural surveys should include questions related to organic and transitional production, acreage, and producer characteristics.

     

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Document Date: February 5, 2014
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