11:00 am - 12:00 pm
Organic agriculture has come a long way from the 1940’s till now. Organic sales now are over $60 billion US dollars worldwide, with North America being the world’s largest single market. We have made great progress including; strong environmental standards, strong consumer support, reduced toxic pesticide exposures to farmers, workers, consumers and our environment as well as adoption of sound soil-building practices. We have gained much from our development of governmental regulatory organic oversight systems. However, some of our weaknesses, include; that these governmental systems can be very slow to improve and innovate, such as the need to measure, reward and quantify our soil carbon sequestration impacts to better address climate change, the need to strengthen our animal welfare standards, and how to best ensure fairness to organic farmers and workers.
We are now faced with many challenges that come with rapid growth and success, including; ensuring that all size operations worldwide are held the same consistent standards and that we are adequately protecting farmers and consumers against organic fraud, that we are continuing to evolve our ethic to better meet consumer expectations while rewarding farmers for innovation and continuous improvements.
Come hear about efforts in the US and elsewhere, where new market-based initiatives are emerging to address some of the current gaps in our organic model – Regenerative Organic is piloting on US farms this year to test new standards for soil-building and carbon sequestration, as well as linking existing fair trade, food justice and animal welfare standards to these piloting certified organic farms. Additionally, a New England-based organic farmer initiative is testing additional market claims for certified organic farms that wish to verify “soil-based and enhanced animal welfare standards” to address gaps in current US National Organic Program.
Our challenge is to ensure that these and other emerging organic market-based initiatives can help drive innovation, better reward farmers and workers, improve our governmental standards while not burdening farmers with more “red tape” and confusing consumers with multiple labels.
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