WASHINGTON – Despite growing consumer demand for organic foods, domestic production of many organic crops and commodities, like organic grains, has struggled to keep pace, leaving many American companies far too reliant on imports for products that can be grown in the U.S. such as corn, soybeans and almonds, wrote more than two dozen leading food and retail companies to Congress.
Congress is currently debating the farm bill, which will set federal food and agriculture policy for the next five years. There are several proposals that have been introduced in both chambers that would make significant strides in helping producers that want to transition to organic better manage the technical, financial, infrastructure and land-access challenges that they face, noted the group.
“The United States leads the globe in production of soybeans, corn, and almonds, so why should American food companies be reliant on imports for these organic products?” said Gary Hirshberg, co-founder of Stonyfield, the worlds largest organic yogurt company. “Congress should be making it easier for producers that want to convert to organic farming to do so. Consumers have set the table for us, now it’s the job of Congress and the organic industry to give them what they want: homegrown organic food.”
“With organic now representing more than five percent of the food market but less than 1 percent of farmland, Congress needs to level the playing field so farmers in the U.S. can benefit from the value organic brings to the table domestically,” said Alexandra DySard from MOM’s Organic Market.
“The organic sector is one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. food industry, but too many farmers and ranchers have been left on the sidelines because Congress has not adequately addressed the challenges that producers transitioning to organic face,” DySard said. “Simple, no-cost or low-cost changes in the next farm bill can begin to reverse that trend. Congress is well positioned to give current and future farmers who want to expand into organic production the resources they need to compete and win.”
The companies and trade associations that signed and sent the letter to congressional leaders include: Amy’s Kitchen; Applegate; Back to the Roots; Bascom Maple Farms, Inc.; Beetnik; Bhakti; Boulder Food Group; Clif Bar; DanoneWave; Fig Food Company; Forager Project Global Organics; Hain Celestial Group, Inc.; Honest Tea; Independent Natural Food Retailers Association; Late July; Luke’s Organic; Lundberg Family Farm; Mamma Chia; Maple Hill Creamery; MegaFood; MOM’s Organic Market; National Co+op Grocers; Nature’s Path; Naturepedic; Nutiva; Once Upon a Farm; One Degree Organic; Orgain; PCC Natural Markets; Pete and Gerry’s Organic Eggs; Plant Based Food Association; Plum Organic; SeaSnax; Stonyfield Farm; Strauss Family Creamery; Three Twins Ice Cream; To Your Health Sprouted Flour Co; Traditional Medicinals; Uncle Matt’s Organic; United Natural Foods, Inc; and Yummy Spoonfulls.