Stand with Farmers: Organic Food Should Grow in Organic Soil

In late October, Organic farmers from New England rallied in East Thetford, VT to protest the eroding of organic standards. A recent decision by USDA's National Organic Program allowing hydroponically grown crops to be certified organic, despite a 2010 vote against such an allowance by the indepdendent stakeholder National Organic Standards Board, has galvanized the organic farming community. Organic farmers are saying no to hydroponic crops displaying the organic label. As federal organic law, the Organic Foods Production Act, states unequivocally, "An organic plan shall contain provisions designed to foster soil fertility, primarily through the management of organic content of the soil through proper tillage, crop rotation, and manuring.”

The U.S. government is alone among developed countries in granting the much-desired “organic” label to hydroponic growing.  Hydroponic production is a soil-less process that has long been the norm in conventional greenhouse production. Now, it is fast becoming the norm in organic certification for several major crops, such as tomatoes and berries. Hydro plants are fed via fertilized irrigation water. This process has been embraced by conventional, chemical-intensive greenhouse producers for its simplicity, high yields, and low costs. Experts say the explosive growth in hydroponic imports labeled organic may force some organic farmers out of business in as little as five years.

If you agree that organic without soil is like democracy without the people, stand with us in support of real organic farmers.

Let the Agriculture Secretary Tim Vilsack know how you feel about the foundational importance of soil in organic production by sending a letter today!

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