Organic Advocacy is a women-owned, non-profit, start-up consultancy that designs and directs projects aimed at moving organic food and agriculture from the margins to the mainstream. Our work is motivated by the fact that increasing organic agriculture has a direct and positive impact on community health and the environment. We partner with organic farmers, organic businesses, university researchers and public interest groups to grow organic agriculture with the ultimate goal of replacing the dominant, agrochemical-dependent system of food production. Our projects facilitate farmer-led improvements in organic practices, raise public awareness about the benefits of eating and farming organically, and add critical research, analyses and recommendations to organic policy debates. We strengthen consumer confidence in organic and grow organic markets.
Working for several decades to protect, promote, and improve organic makes Organic Advocacy’s co-founders uniquely qualified to initiate projects that deliver concrete and beneficial changes to how our nation’s food is produced. Well-known for our leadership and active participation in organic policy-making arenas, we connect the dots between organic farming, access to fresh organic food and the well-being of our communities. We translate that information into concrete initiatives that advance organic on the ground, in grocery stores and at the state and federal levels of government. Organic Advocacy is dedicated to facilitating positive changes in organic that bolster organic farmer resiliency and profitability.
Protect Organic: From What?
Organic is increasingly under threat by companies who want to take advantage of the economic benefits of organic without embracing its underlying principles and ethics. Yet, organic’s undisputed value is embedded in its ecological system of production, which is consciously designed to protect human health, safeguard animal welfare and steward the natural environment. This high quality and high integrity system of food production gives organic its true value in the marketplace. Any weakening of the organic standards – to allow either more companies to become certified organic or more organic products on store shelves – devalues organic and undermines consumer confidence in the organic label.
Promote Organic: Why?
Organic systems of production provide multiple solutions and benefits to our country’s most pressing social and environmental problems – from asthma and birth defects, to pollinator population declines, species extinction and climate change. In contrast to conventional farming, organic farming prohibits by law the use of the most toxic agrochemicals that threaten our air, land, water and health. Synthetic pesticides, fertilizers, weed killers and sewage sludge are not allowed and neither are GMOs, food irradiation or preservatives. Organic creates a healthy environment for those who grow our food, surrounding communities, farm animals, wildlife and nature. It also affords farmers an economically sustainable livelihood by providing a price premium for their agro-ecological practices which are far more labor intensive than conventional agriculture. Such practices include building soil fertility and biological diversity; intercropping, mixed cropping, and crop rotations; protecting wildlife, habitats, and pollinators; storing carbon; and enriching the ecological processes upon which current and future generations depend to feed their communities and the world.
Improve Organic: How?
When Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 (OFPA), organic was still in its infancy and not every seed, farm input or food ingredient was certified organic. Realizing the need for further improvements, Congress created the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) of stakeholders appointed by the Secretary of Agriculture to assist in organic standards development, evaluate permissible materials, and advise on the evolution of the National Organic Program. At the NOSB’s bi-annual meetings, the general public and diverse organic experts provide input into government decisions affecting industry development. While much has improved since the passage of OFPA, regulations and guidance on critical issues such as animal welfare, seed purity, aquaculture and others have yet to be finalized. Such ongoing developments reinforce the intent of OFPA to allow for continuous improvements in organic practices, policies and regulations over time.