Cornucopia Report Puts Farmers Back in Charge of Organic Certification

The Cornucopia Institute
USDA Has "Willfully Failed" on Congressional Mandate to Prevent Fraud

USDA Has "Willfully Failed" on Congressional Mandate to Prevent Fraud

CORNUCOPIA, Wis., March 15, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- When farmers lobbied Congress to pass the Organic Foods Production Act in 1990, their intention was to create a level playing field in the market and to affirm the credibility of organic labeling in the eyes of consumers. Unfortunately, according to a newly released report by The Cornucopia Institute, the USDA's poor oversight of federally accredited third-party certifiers has paved the way for illegal output from "factory farms" that now dominate the $50 billion organic market basket.

Prior to 2002 when federal regulations kicked in, a hodgepodge of state laws and dozens of independently owned certifiers created their own organic standards. Although Congress intended the enforcement of uniform national regulations, a handful of the largest certifiers have allowed livestock factories producing dubious milk and eggs and hydroponic, soil-less indoor farming to illegally squeeze out legitimate family scale organic farmers and ranchers.

In addition to Cornucopia's investigative analysis, the nonprofit farm policy research group also released a guide rating all 45 domestic certifiers on their adherence to the "spirit and letter of the organic law" as gauged by the most prominent allegations of malfeasance currently facing the organic industry.

"This might be the most provocative project we have worked on during our 15-year history," said Mark A. Kastel, a Cornucopia founder and its current Executive Director. "Make no mistake about it, farmers will be empowered to disrupt the revenue streams of some of the largest and most powerful certifiers in the organic industry by switching to truly ethical alternatives."

Cornucopia alleges that many of the certifiers established by farmers, some in existence since the 1970s and 80s, have morphed from nonprofits dedicated to helping promote environmental animal husbandry and the economic justice benefits of organic farming into multimillion-dollar corporations more interested in pursuing multibillion-dollar corporate agribusinesses.

Marie Burcham, a Cornucopia attorney and policy analyst who helped write the report said, "Consumers will also be better able to judge whether food products meet their expectations, based on which certifier is listed on the package."

Federal law requires that manufacturers and distributors of certified products that prominently display the word "organic" and/or the USDA organic seal specify on their packaging who certified the product. This facilitates wholesale buyers' and consumers' use of Cornucopia's certifier ratings.

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Contact: Mark Kastel, 608-625-2042. For full size image, reach out.


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SOURCE The Cornucopia Institute