The OTA: OTA’s mission is to promote and protect organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy. A board of 10 elected and 5 appointed members govern OTA. They cover the full range of links in the organic chain. No sector dominates. No region dominates. Over 1100 trade member choose the board by popular vote. Each member, whether a 5 acre farmer, an inspector, a handler or an international food company, gets the same vote in electing the OTA board. Board decisions are open, considered and frank.
Harvey V. Veneman: The court’s decision in Harvey V. Veneman presented the board a serious challenge. The board’s analysis concluded that Harvey would likely reduce the organic market, undermine conversion of farms to organic practices and change the intent of long-established organic standards. In the board’s opinion, Harvey destroyed the regulatory stability that had encouraged diverse companies and individuals to enter the organic market and that had brought a wonderful cornucopia of organic products to consumers.
OTA response: Faced with that challenge, OTA concluded that its responsibilities to its members required a discreet, very limited, legislative action to amend OFPA to place the organic community as closely as possible in the conditions that existed immediately prior to the court’s decision. OTA asked Congress to clarify its intent. Congress did so, essentially reversing the court decision. As restated by Congress, OFPA supports the continued critical role of the National Organic Standards Board. It leaves in place a very tightly controlled, limited list of publicly vetted synthetic ingredients that can be used in the “95% organic” label category. As organic products become available to replace ingredients on this list, OTA will work to see associated synthetics dropped from acceptance. As restated, OFPA permits the continued evolution of organic standards. Commerce continues. The restated rules continue to support organic integrity.
The Future: The organic community includes many interdependent links. Opinions within and among those links legitimately differ. Harvey represents a serious disagreement within the community. There will be others. The rules themselves are written so that standards evolve as new organic ingredients become available. OTA invites all links in the organic community to engage in dialogue to improve the National Organic Program. We keenly wish to cooperate with others who envision organic products becoming a more significant part of everyday life. We face common challenges in helping shape the 2007 farm bill, in further developing the rules needed to carry organics to a higher level, and in adjusting to growing internationally. We invite all members of the organic community to join us in rededicating ourselves to the essential work of expanding organic markets and production and protecting the integrity of organic agriculture. |
April 26, 2006 OTA: Proposed rule offers clear resolution to issues raised by lawsuit
OTA letter to Secretary Johanns Regarding the Report and Regulations (posted March 10, 2006)
Congressionally mandated study, "The National Organic Program Impact of Harvey v. Johanns and Restoring the NOP to pre-Lawsuit Status: A Report to Congress, March 2006" (PDF)
(posted March 7, 2006)
Congressional Research Service Report - Harvey v. Veneman and the National Organic Program: A Legal Analysis (posted November 11, 2005)
Overview of the Emergency Procedures Provision (November 4, 2005)
OTA's Statement on Congressional Action (October 31, 2005)
October 26, 2005 Congressional Record (Highlighted section is the amendment)