February 16, 2009
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) has convened a task force to develop an industry standard for verifying the integrity of agricultural inputs approved for use on organic farms. Recent allegations that a company sold a liquid fertilizer labeled for use on organic farms that was fortified with a substance not permitted in organic agriculture have called into question the process by which these inputs are currently verified for use.
The task force mandate is to develop an industry standard/process for verifying inputs that will serve as a national solution for confirming organic integrity. Members across the grower, input manufacturer, certifier, and inspector sectors are represented as well as members with expertise in standards and policy development and a scientific and technical understanding of materials and verification methods. The task force expects to publish a framework for the industry-wide solution in 45 days and a working draft of the program within 90 days followed by final adoption in June 2009.
Shoppers can rest assured that organic farmers work in good faith to adhere to stringent federal standards that prohibit the use of toxic and persistent pesticides and fertilizers. The organic farming community has taken these revelations seriously, and OTA supports the steps already taken by many of its members to cease using the agricultural inputs in question and place the integrity of organic products at the center of their business practices.
Farmers, retailers, and most of all shoppers deserve organic products that they can trust. A properly funded regulatory and enforcement system is necessary to help fulfill that trust.
OTA, which represents small and large businesses from all parts of the supply chain for organic agriculture and products, strongly supports both stringent standards for organic production and timely enforcement of those standards. For years, OTA as a leading voice of the organic industry has fought for proper funding at the federal level for those activities, and encourages proper funding at the state levels.