The Vermont Delegation
In 2014 the entire Vermont congressional delegation spoke up and gave strong public support to our position. We are grateful to Senator Leahy, Senator Sanders, and Congressman Welch for their support. Senator Leahy was one of the original sponsors of law creating the National Organic Program.
Senator Bernie Sanders
“Senator Sanders would be challenging the USDA standards and requesting the Ag Marketing Service/USDA to take the advisement of the National Organic Standards Board (an independent advisory board) seriously.
“Organic standards must be maintained to protect the integrity of the program. Furthermore, the vast majority of the hydroponic vegetables that are being sold in the US are from Mexico, Canada, and Holland where they prohibit the sale of hydroponics as organic within their own country.
“The USDA has no reason not to follow the direction of the NOSB and the voice of our Vermont Organic Farmers organization, if our country is to continue its substantial production of organic crops for a hungry world.
“That is not to say hydroponics do not have a place in agriculture. Looking to the future of America’s agriculture industry, the seasonality of growing food here in Vermont, the significance of growing food in a small space, and the ever-threatening issue of water as a resource — are among the reasons that hydroponics have good value as well, and should be supported — just not with an organic label.”
Congressman Peter Welch
“Vermont-grown, organically-certified tomatoes are among the most healthy and delicious food products grown in Vermont. Our organic farmers adhere to strict federal guidelines and carefully tend their soil in order to grow them.
“Hydroponic tomatoes are another quality food product, but they are not organic. The USDA should accept the recommendation of its own National Organic Standards Board and protect the integrity of the USDA Organic label by excluding hydroponics from the organic program.
“We will continue to advocate with USDA on behalf of a strong organic tomato labeling program, and in concert with NOFA-VT, the National Organic Coalition, and organic growers in our region.”
Senator Pat Leahy
“As the father of the national organic standards and labeling program, Sen. Leahy is intent on defending the integrity of the National Organic Standards. Consumers need to know they can trust the organic label, and producers need standards that are clear, fair and soundly based. In the case of soil-less growing techniques, the National Organic Program (of the USDA) and the National Organic Standards Board seem to be at odds. Senator Leahy is contacting the NOP to request that they give due consideration to the findings of the advisory board.”