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OTA Response: Organic is not a scam

Oct 10, 2017
National Review

Dear Editors,

Organic is not a scam. Organic is the most heavily regulated and closely monitored food system in the United States. It is also the most transparent. Organic standards are developed through a transparent process involving the government, a citizen advisory group, industry representatives and the public. Julie Kelly ("Congress should investigate the organic scam” on Oct. 10) likes to stoke divisiveness when writing one of her opinion pieces about organic, but facts are facts, and the facts just don’t support Julie’s name-calling.

Julie’s latest piece misleads about the recently introduced Organic Food and Consumer Protection Act. This important bipartisan legislation does much more than to increase funding for USDA’s National Organic Program. It directly addresses the problem of potential fraud in the global organic market by offering real solutions to confront the issue. While it provides very modest one-time funding for USDA to modernize and improve international trade tracking systems and data collection through updated technology; it also improves USDA oversight, investigations, and enforcement across the entire supply chain; it directs coordination and provides access to available cross-border documentation systems administered across other federal agencies and departments; it requires USDA to close regulatory loopholes by mandating that uncertified entities, such as ports, brokers, importers and online auctions, become certified; it requires the National Organic Program to issue an annual compliance report to Congress, which would include domestic and overseas investigations and actions taken.

The Organic Trade Association was instrumental in helping to craft this legislation, and the bill takes critical and necessary steps to improve some of the key deficits identified in the global organic trading system.

The organic industry takes the issue of potential fraud seriously. A stronger program to increase the transparency and tracking of international trade was the number-one priority for the next Farm Bill in a survey of more than 500 organic stakeholders conducted by the Organic Trade Association last year. Dozens of the Organic Trade Association’s member companies representing organic farmers, handlers, traders, consultants, attorneys, and retailers are working right now to develop private-sector solutions to help bolster what’s happening in the government.

People choose organic because they know it makes a difference. They look for the USDA Organic seal because they trust in the seal and understand that the seal means that product was grown and produced in ways different from other agricultural practices. The organic community does not take that consumer trust for granted and works hard every day to maintain the integrity of organic.

Laura Batcha
CEO and Executive Director
Organic Trade Association