Keep the Soil in Organic

Soil is the foundation of organic − at least, it should be. At the fall meeting of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) in Stowe, VT, in October 2015, organic farmers united in protest against the allowance of hydroponic, or soilless, growing practices in certified organic production.

OSGATA Board President Jim Gerritsen stood with the farmers’ position in his oral comments to the NOSB, stating that organic production must be soil-based.

A coalition of farmers from across the country have since called for a moratorium on hydroponics in organic through a letter to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) dated February 17, 2016.  The letter urges USDA to institute an immediate moratorium on the organic certification of all new hydroponic and aquaponic operations, until the agency finalizes good greenhouse standards. NOSB’s 2010 recommendations are to prohibit soilless hydroponic vegetable production as certified organic, and the National Organic Program’s decision to allow hydroponics under the organic label is in violation of the program’s legal responsibility to follow established due process in setting standards.

The farmers’ position is in solidarity with the international organic community, with groups such as IFOAM-Organics calling for USDA to uphold the 201o NOSB recommendations.

In support of the farmers’ moratorium letter, New York organic farmers at the NOFA-NY winter conference initiated a petition to rally support. Add your name to the petition calling for a moratorium on hydroponics in organic via Keep the Soil in Organic.


The letter  and petition will be delivered to Secretary Vilsack in April. Read the full letter here. Sign-on in support of a moratorium here.





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