Regenerative Organic Certification is 'serious risk' to USDA's organic label, says OTA
December 1, 2017
Despite the post-Thanksgiving scramble by some in the natural and organic products industry to file comments by midnight Thursday, the deadline to comment on Rodale Institute's Regenerative Organic Certification has been extended until the end of the year.
The proposed certification scheme, which encompasses guidelines for soil health and land management, animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness, "does not aim to supplant current organic standards," said Rodale, based in Kutztown, Pa.
"Instead, this certification aims to support these standards while at the same time facilitate widespread adoption of holistic, regenerative practices throughout agriculture. It builds upon the standards set forth by USDA organic and similar programs internationally, particularly in the areas of animal welfare and farmer and worker fairness," said the organic research and outreach nonprofit.
In 2014, research by Rodale estimated that if current crop acreage and pastureland shifted to regenerative organic practices, 100 percent of annual global carbon dioxide emissions could be sequestered in the soil.
A one-month public comment period kicked off in September, with certification group NSF Internationalfacilitating the comment process. The first comment period was slated to close Oct. 13 but was extended until Nov. 30 at midnight.
However, NSF told Sustainable Food News Friday morning that "several stakeholders requested additional time," so the deadline to comment was pushed back again until Dec. 31 at midnight.
Rodale published a supplement to the proposed ROC standard last month containing equivalency analyses showing how ROC's guideliness for soil health and land management, animal welfare, and farmer and worker fairness are met by existing standards under various certifications.
The list of certifications analyzed include:
Soil Health and Land Management
- USDA National Organic Program
- European Union Commission Organic Regulations
- IFOAM Standard for Organic Production & Processing
- Demeter Biodynamic Farm Standard
- Naturland Standards on Production
- Global Animal Partnership
- Animal Welfare Approved
- Humane Farm Animal Care: Certified Humane
Farmer and Worker Fairness
- Agricultural Justice Project
- Naturland Fair Standards
- Fair Trade USA
- Fairtrade International
- Small Producer Symbol
- Fair for Life
- Equitable Food Initiative
- World Fair Trade Organization
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is warning that the ROC program threatens the success of the organic industry.
"The good intention of the [ROC] scheme, in fact, does present a serious risk to the success of the USDA Organic label because of the similarity and overlap between two of the three pillars - soil health and animal welfare," the trade group said in its ROC comments. "As the awareness of this standard spreads, so may the misconception that USDA organic standards do not include requirements for soil health, biodiversity and animal welfare. Although not intended, this could present an unfortunate disservice to the livelihood of the organic sector and organic farmers across America."
General Mills, Inc., the fourth-largest producer of organic and natural foods, said in its ROC comments that while it agrees "organic is a strong foundation of regenerative principles," it has concerns about "reserving ROC eligibility for a small subset of farmers who operate less than 1 percent of farmland in the U.S."
The Minneapolis, Minn.-based (NYSE:GIS) multinational, which owns the iconic Annie's organic and natural food brand, the leading brand in its $1.1 billion natural and organic segment, also said it was concerned about the impact on consumers of another eco-label in the marketplace.
"With a growing litany of environmental and social standards for food products, we are concerned that yet another eco-label, with multiple tiers within, will further complicate the landscape of [third-party] labels for consumers," General Mills said.
"At Stonyfield we routinely see how many consumers are still unclear on the meaning of organic. For instance, polling data repeatedly shows that at least some consumers find terms like 'natural' and 'non-GMO' to be more meaningful than organic," the Londonderry, N.H.-based company said in its ROC comments. "We are concerned that it will be hard for Rodale or others who use [ROC] to explain to consumers why this certification is needed without adding to this confusion."
Stonyfield also said it had "numerous questions and concerns" about ROC requirements, and "most importantly how this process will be governed and how it will intersect in the marketplace with the existing system for organic certification."
"We also believe that as a community, we all must continue to invest substantial effort in the public process we have for improving the organic standard itself. We hope this effort to launch [ROC] will not lull members of our community into thinking they no longer have to invest effort in that process."
Meanwhile, several board members of the Biodynamic Association have taken issue with the ROC's perceived lack of "reciprocity."
"For example, while Demeter Biodynamic is part of a base [ROC] standard, the farms that are Demeter certified still need to go through the same requirements as those who are not," the BDA board members said in their ROC comments. "This implies that Demeter is not as regenerative as it should be, which to us is absurd...The goal should be not to further burden those farms that are doing it right but rather to encourage those who are not yet to become regenerative."
Review and comment on the new Regenerative Organic Certification requirements here.
"After the public comment period is complete, brands, farmers, and ranchers are encouraged to embrace these practices, incorporate them into their supply chains, and create a market for Regenerative Organic Certified products," said Rodale.
Rodale said the abridged list of contributors to the creation of the Regenerative Organic Certification include:
Rodale pioneers best practices at its organic farm research center, where it receives over 15,000 visitors annually. The group provides outreach to farmers, policymakers, and the general public on animal health and behavior and trends in production using different breeds.
Organic fresh produce is one of the most wholesome, healthy foods you can consume.
The word "organic" refers to the way agricultural products are grown and processed.Read More
The first of three keynote presentations during the 2018 Organic Grower Summit will offer an international overview of the organic produce industry – exploring the opportunities, challenges and issues facing the growing organic fresh fruit and vegetable marketplace. The Grower Roundtable, featuring three organic growers from North America, will provide OGS attendees an insightful exchange of ideas and information on topics ranging from labor, regulations and supply chain issues.Read More
As one of the largest retailers of organic food sales in the United States, Costco announced their commitment to participating in the second annual Organic Grower Summit (OGS) this coming December 12-13, in Monterey, CA. Costco, with annual fresh produce sales of $4 billion, will sponsor two half-day events providing certified organic farmers and growers the opportunity to meet with Costco buyers.Read More
The first of six educational sessions finalized for the 2018 Organic Grower Summit will focus on the work needed to protect the organic brand and uphold consumer trust for all certified organic food products. “Safeguarding the Organic Brand” will feature leaders from organic industry compliance, research and regulation agencies and offer a deep dive discussion into what the organic industry is doing to maintain organic integrity, as well as what the future holds for the organic label.Read More
The USDA has established an organic certification program that requires all organic foods to meet strict government standards.Read More
A new addition to the schedule has been finalized for the Organic Grower Summit 2018 in Monterey, CA. The Organic Grower Summit is excited to announce the 2018 CannaBus Tour, created in collaboration with the Monterey County Cannabis Industry Association (MCCIA), on Wednesday, December 12, 2018.Read More
Organic Grower Summit Announces Second Educational Intensive Session: “Sustainable Investing in Your Organic Farming Future”
A second intensive educational session has been finalized for the annual Organic Grower Summit in Monterey, CA. “Sustainable Investing in Your Farming Future” will dive deep into the strategic and financial challenges growers, shippers and other fresh food producers, especially those with multi-generational ownership, face.Read More
According to the National Society for Nutrition, there is no clear definition for the term "natural".Read More
General attendee registration is now open for the inaugural Organic Grower Summit (OGS), slated for December 13-14 in Monterey, CA. A joint production between California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and Organic Produce Network (OPN), OGS will bring together organic growers, producers and processors for two days of education, information and networking opportunities with organic production supply chain and service providers.Read More
General attendee registration is now open for the Organic Grower Summit (OGS), slated for December 12-13 in Monterey, CA. A joint-production between California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and Organic Produce Network (OPN), OGS will bring together the entire organic growing and production chain as well as service providers and supply chain partners for two days of information, education and networking opportunities.Read More
A combination of in-depth intensive educational sessions and a series of broader discussions providing relevant and timely information for organic growers headline the agenda of the second annual Organic Grower Summit this coming December 12-13 in Monterey, CA.Read More
The first of two intensive educational sessions has been finalized for the second annual Organic Grower Summit in Monterey, CA. “Scaling Up Healthy Soil Practices” will dive deep into the benefits and usage of bio fertilizers and soil amendments, current research as well as the issues and opportunities to enhance organic farm operations.Read More
Organic fresh produce sales started the year strong with eight percent dollar and volume growth compared to the first quarter of 2017, according to the Organic Produce Network (OPN). Organic packaged salads remain the category driver, responsible for 19 percent of all organic fresh produce sales. Behind packaged salad sales were organic berries and apples, with the three categories making up 40 percent of all organic fresh produce sales for the quarter.Read More
Wal-Mart, Kroger and Meijer, Fresh Produce Leaders featured at Organic Produce Summit 2018 | Retailer Roundtable
Fresh produce leaders from three of the nations’ largest and most recognized grocery operations have been confirmed as panelists for the Retailer Roundtable at the third annual The Organic Produce Summit, on July 11-12 in Monterey, CA.Read More
Exhibitor booth registration is now open for the Organic Grower Summit (OGS), slated for December 12-13, 2018, in Monterey, California. Organic supply chain partners and service providers are encouraged to sign up for a booth at the second annual OGS, which features two days of information, education, and networking opportunities with organic growers.Read More
The Organic Produce Network (OPN) and California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) are again teaming up to host the second annual Organic Grower Summit (OGS) on December 12 -13, 2018 at the renovated Monterey Convention Center in downtown Monterey, CA.Read More
Geoff White, President of Albertson’s Own Brands, including the bestselling O organic brand, has been announced as the third keynote presenter at the Organic Produce Summit 2018, this coming July in Monterey, CA.Read More
Campbell Fresh President and Best-Selling Author Confirmed as Keynote Speakers at Organic Produce Summit
The president of one of the worlds most recognized consumer fresh brands and a thought-provoking best-selling author have been confirmed as keynote presenters at Organic Produce Summit 2018, this coming July in Monterey, CA.Read More
Monterey, CA (January 8, 2018) - General attendee registration for the third annual Organic Produce Summit will open on Monday, January 8 on the OPS website (www.organicproducesummit.com). Special “Early Bird” pricing is available during the month of January for the only event dedicated exclusively to bringing together organic fresh produce growers, shippers and processors with retailers and buying organizations across North America.Read More
Monterey, CA (December 18, 2017) — Underscoring the vibrancy of opportunities in organic produce, the first ever Organic Grower Summit (OGS) presented by CCOF and the Organic Produce Network (OPN), was an energetic, sold-out event with more than 800 attendees. Growers large and small joined other organic industry leaders and entrepreneurs in underscoring the need for strong, well-enforced standards as essential to the continued growth of consumer demand for fresh organic products.Read More
Salinas, CA (November 8, 2017) - Organic fresh produce sales reached $1.16 billion for the third quarter of 2017, an eight percent increase in dollars and 10 percent rise in volume from the previous year, according to the Organic Produce Network (OPN).
Partnering with Nielsen, OPN’s review of third quarter organic fresh produce sales at retail stores across the country shows dollar sales of organic fresh vegetables were $576 million while organic fresh fruit sales were $408 million. The remaining time $173 million organic fresh sales are “other produce items”, which includes organic herbs/seasonings, beverages and dressings. Collectively, organic fresh fruits and vegetables represented 10.2 percent of all produce dollars at the end of the third quarter.Read More
Sun Basket COO Don Barnett to keynote at OGS; Event nearly sold-out, with limited attendee registration still available.
Monterey, CA (October 31, 2017) - Sun Basket COO Don Barnett has been confirmed as the final keynote presenter at the upcoming Organic Grower Summit (OGS) in Monterey, CA. Sun Basket is a leading nationwide delivery service that provides recipes and pre-portioned organic ingredients for home-cooked meals. Barnett has over 25 years of fresh produce experience and was previously the co-founder/partner and CFO of NewStar Fresh Foods, Organicgirl Produce, and Pessagno Winery.Read More
Monterey, CA (October 4, 2017) - The Organic Grower Summit (OGS) has finalized the educational component of its inaugural event, with a series of inspiring and engaging sessions focused on the production side of organic fresh produce. Additionally, a Grower Roundtable will be one of three keynote presentations, rounding out an impactful and insightful exchange of ideas and information between OGS attendees.Read More
Costco Sponsoring "Meet the Farmer" At Organic Grower Summit 2017; Exhibit Area Sold-Out for First Ever Event
Monterey, CA (September 12, 2017) — The largest retailer of organic food sales in the United States announced their commitment to participating in the inaugural Organic Grower Summit (OGS) this coming December 13-14, in Monterey, CA. Costco, with annual fresh produce sales of $4 billion, will sponsor a half-day event providing certified organic farmers and growers the opportunity to meet with Costco buyers.Read More
Monterey, CA (July 25, 2017) - General attendee registration is now open for the inaugural Organic Grower Summit (OGS), slated for December 13-14 in Monterey, CA. A joint production between California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) and Organic Produce Network (OPN), OGS will bring together organic growers, producers and processors for two days of education, information and networking opportunities with organic production supply chain and service providers.Read More
Monterey, CA (August, 15, 2017) - The Organic Grower Summit (OGS) has announced Western Growers will serve as the Ag Technology sponsor for this year's inaugural event. As the Ag Technology sponsor, Western Growers will help coordinate the attendance of technology companies as exhibitors, and help facilitate elements of the technology area at the event.Read More
Monterey, CA (March 1st, 2017) — The Organic Produce Network (OPN) and California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF) are teaming up to host the first-ever Organic Grower Summit (OGS) in Monterey, California on December 13 -14, 2017.
The OGS will bring together the entire organic production chain as well as service and supply partners at one informative event. Organic growers, producers and handlers from fresh produce, dairy, meat and grain sectors will have the opportunity to network and learn with suppliers, service providers, packaging and technology companies, equipment manufacturers and other companies critical to their success.
“CCOF growers look forward to this rare opportunity to network with each other and with other organic sector leaders and innovators,” says CCOF CEO Cathy Calfo, “Growers are key to meeting the demand for organic products and grower-driven events like this summit are important to their success.”Read More
Salinas, CA – (January 8, 2017) –Responding to double-digit growth in the fastest growing retail food category, a pair of produce industry veterans have announced the formation of a new company to connect facets of the organic produce community through education, information and live events.
Matt Seeley, former vice president of marketing for The Nunes Company, and Tonya Antle, former vice president of organic sales for Earthbound Farm have teamed to develop The Organic Produce Network (OPN).
OPN is being designed as the voice and go-to resource for all things related to organic produce. The company’s mission is to inform and educate through a strong digital presence with an emphasis on original content, and complemented by engaging live events which bring together various components of the organic food community.Read More
Monterey, CA (May 26, 2017) - The U.S. organic sector gained new market share in 2016 and shattered previous records, according to the Organic Trade Association’s (OTA) 2017 Organic Industry Survey. The $43 billion in organic food sales marked the first time the American organic food market has broken through the $40 billion mark. While the overall food market was stagnant with a growth rate of just 0.6%, organic food sales increased by 8.4% or $3.3 billion. Organic food now accounts for more than 5.3% of total food sales in the nation, a new milestone.Read More
Salinas, CA (May 30, 2017) - Panels at the inaugural Organic Grower Summit (OGS) will include a range of topics designed to inform and engage organic growers, farmers and producers, and their service and supply chain partners. Farm soil management, environmentally sustainable packaging, advances in agricultural technology and discussion with elected state and federal officials on key issues facing agriculture are among topics that will be addressed by an illustrious line of speakers at OGS, December 13-14 in Monterey, CARead More
Booth Registration now Open for Inaugural Organic Grower Summit in Monterey, CA.Read More
SALINAS, CA (March 15, 2017)—The Organic Produce Network (OPN) continues to grow their presence with the launch of its website, weekly e-newsletter and a new addition to their staff.Read More
Organic Industry "Reality Check" Revealed by Organic Produce Network Co-Founder Tonya Antle, at Natural Products Expo West 2017
SALINAS, CA—(March 6, 2017)-Organic fresh produce is a bright spot in today’s fractured food system and economy, according to organic industry pioneer, Tonya Antle. Antle, co-founder of the newly-formed Organic Produce Network, will unveil trends in the multi-billion dollar organic fresh produce industry as a panelist at the Organic Trade Association’s "Organic Innovations Conversation," part of Natural Products Expo West’s gargantuan trade show on Friday, March 10 at 12:45 pm.
Moderated by industry expert and OTA Executive Director and CEO Laura Batcha, the predictably provocative conversation with Antle and nine other organic industry innovators, includes a collection of fast-paced presentations on what’s next in organics from thought-leaders, entrepreneurs and trend spotters. Natural Products Expo West is the preeminent show for spotting trends in the food and CPG industry. In 2016, the event brought together an inspired community of industry members and more than 3,000 exhibitors and 77,000 attendees.Read More