Six months to sow ideas for voluntary organic checkoff

Rebuffed by the Trump administration, the Organic Trade Association turned to the public on Monday for ideas on how to design a voluntary checkoff program to raise research-and-promotion money for the sector and where to put the money. "The need for more investment in organic is widely agreed upon," said OTA chief executive Laura Batcha.

Second federal court allows challenge of USDA over organic livestock

Federal judges on the east and west coasts have rebuffed the USDA and are allowing lawsuits to proceed against the Trump administration's dismissal of animal welfare standards for organic farms, a regulation that was in the works for years. The Organic Trade Association (OTA) says that by delaying and then withdrawing the livestock rule, the government "engaged in a pattern of misconduct that can only be corrected by a federal court."

How’s organic faring in the farm bill?

In FERN's latest audio report, reporter Barry Yeoman delves into the fast-growing organic food sector and explores how organic agriculture is faring in the 2018 farm bill. The piece was produced for Nebraska Public Media's "On the Table" Podcast. (No paywall)

Iconic Northwest organic produce company sold, without selling out

Call it the paradox of the organic food industry: Small companies that position themselves as alternatives to mainstream food brands become popular, grow quickly, add employees, and eventually get sold — often to Big Food companies. Now one company is trying to avoid that fate by selling itself to what’s known as a purpose trust. No paywall

Nixed livestock rule and fraud top organic topics at food policy conference

The Department of Agriculture’s withdrawal of an organic animal welfare rule and fraudulent organic imports were hot topics at Wednesday’s National Food Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. The conference, held by the Consumer Federation of America, is underwritten by some of the biggest food companies in the country, including Cargill, DowDuPont, General Mills, Walmart, and Tyson Foods.

WSU’s Bread Lab gets endowed chair from Clif Bar, King Arthur Flour

The Bread Lab, a research institution at Washington State University that focuses on local grains, was awarded a $1.5-million endowment so that it can further its work breeding grains adapted to organic farming practices, Clif Bar announced.

Reinstate organic livestock rule, industry asks Perdue

On one of the last days before USDA can carry out its plan to kill the organic livestock rule, the organic food movement put a full-page ad in the Washington Post, asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to drop the idea. The USDA announced in mid-December that it lacked statutory authority to implement the rule, which was a decade in the making, and set a 30-day comment period before it would withdraw the regulation.

USDA delays, and may rewrite the rules of care for organic livestock

For the third time this year, the Agriculture Department is holding up a regulation that would give livestock on organic farms more elbow room than is common at conventional operations, and this time, it says, it may rewrite the rule, which already is a decade in the making. "We will see the department in court and are confident that we will prevail on this important issue for the organic sector," said the Organic Trade Association, which sued USDA two months ago for unlawful delay of the animal welfare regulation.

Organic board decides hydroponics, but not aeroponics, can be organic

For 15 years, USDA has allowed hydroponic crops to be sold as organic and, at a meeting this week in Jacksonville, Fla., the advisory National Organic Standards Board decided to let that practice continue. The board rejected, 8-7, a proposal to deny the USDA Organic label to hydoponics and aquaponics despite a long-running campaign to limit the label to plants grown in soil.