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Over 140 businesses, farmers and organizations call on Senate Agriculture Committee to support the National Organic Standards Board

Farm Bill must not contain provisions that weaken organic standards

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Over 140 businesses, farmers, university research centers and organizations representing a broad spectrum of perspectives about food and agriculture today called on the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee to support the critical role the National Organic Standards Board plays in the organic sector.

As the Senate prepares to release its version of the Farm Bill, the 146 signatories of the letter warn that making changes to the authorities or composition of the NOSB, like those included in the embattled House version of the Farm Bill, could undermine consumer trust in the organic label and damage the reputation of the organic industry.

The NOSB is an independent advisory body that makes recommendations to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture on organic standards, one of the most important of which is to review and develop the National List of Approved and Prohibited Substances. The transparent, democratic process of the NOSB is key to maintaining consumer trust in the organic seal.

The letter also calls on the Senate Agriculture Committee to fully support a broad set of organic and conservation agriculture programs that are critical to the success of American organic farmers.

“One of the top reasons consumers buy organic food is to avoid toxic pesticides. If the National Organic Standards Board is weakened, the organic standards could be opened to allow toxic pesticides, which would severely damage consumer confidence in the organic seal, and with it, the livelihoods of thousands of organic farmers and businesses across the country,” said Kendra Klein, Ph.D., senior staff scientist at Friends of the Earth.

Consumer confidence in the integrity of the USDA organic seal is the driving factor in the exponential growth in the organic sector,” said Abby Youngblood, executive director of the National Organic Coalition. “The National Organic Standards Board is at the very heart of consumer trust in the organic seal. We strongly oppose Farm Bill provisions that would dilute the authority and role of the NOSB. The vast majority of organic stakeholders, including leaders in the organic industry, oppose any provisions that would weaken the NOSB.”

“Supporting infrastructure, research and transition assistance for organic is a smart move, and supporting business where there is growth makes sense,” stated Dag Falck, Organic Program Manager, Nature’s Path Foods Inc. “It’s essential that the organic market opportunity continues to be guided by a body such as the NOSB which was carefully constructed by the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA).”

“Michigan’s organic farmers and consumers are depending on Sen. Stabenow’s leadership on the Agriculture Committee to protect the critical role of the National Organic Standards Board and to keep the organic standards strong,” said Rebecca Meuninck, Ph.D. deputy director of the Michigan-based Ecology Center. “This is a make or break moment for organic standards. Rolling back these standards will erode consumer trust and harm the organic farmers in our state.”

Communications contact: Patrick Davis, (202) 222-0744, pdavis@foe.org

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