The OPA was created to provide regulatory certainty for its members and the industry to allow for investment and innovation to expand the industry as a whole. With a focus on science-based policymaking, a continual goal of the association is to preserve the ability to be innovative while respecting the tradition of organics. Our mission is to meet growing consumer demand for organic produce.
Growth in Organics
According to the Organic Produce Network’s State of Organics 2021, organic fresh produce sales grew by 5.5% in 2021, topping $9 billion for the first time.
Organic fresh produce growth outperformed its conventional counterparts in both volume and sales. The growth potential for the organic industry is more likely to be limited by availability than by demand, as younger consumers entering the market for the first time are seeking out affordable organic options all year long for a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
To support this growth potential, the Organic Produce Association (OPA) is focused on:
Addressing NOSB Recommendations Backlog
In March 2022, OPA submitted comments to USDA regarding the NOP’s program structure, the prioritization of outstanding NOSB recommendations and NOP Handbook updates.
Specifically, OPA appreciates NOP’s continued efforts to develop and enforce consistent national standards for organically produced agricultural products. NOP’s work to approve and implement over 590 regulations, or 87% of NOSB recommendations, provide clarity and confidence for both producers and consumers when evaluating the integrity of the USDA Organic Seal.
OPA focused on two outstanding NOSB recommendations, including:
- Hydroponic/Aeroponic Production and Create Greenhouse and Container Production Standards (April 2010; November 2017—Prohibit Aeroponics). OPA believes that any growing method that adheres to the national organic regulations should be permitted, regardless of the growing procedure used.
- Require Increased Use of Organic Seeds (April 2019). OPA members strongly support the use of organic seeds and support efforts to make them more available without making their use mandatory. This includes increased public investment in organic plant breeding and seed research.
The Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act
OPA is closely monitoring the Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act (HR 2918). Although OPA is supportive of efforts by the bill sponsors to ensure that National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommendations are considered in an appropriate manner, we are concerned that the bill would elevate the status of NOSB above a regular federal advisory committee. Requiring USDA to publish all decisively approved NOSB recommendations in the Federal Register and undergo a formal rulemaking process on a specific timeframe would significantly impact the ability of a small advisory board to implement organic policy.
Further, OPA is supportive of current USDA efforts to reduce the backlog of NOSB recommendations and appreciates the work being done to ensure an open and transparent process being used to prioritize outstanding recommendations for action.
OPA requests appropriate investments in USDA programs supporting organic growers, and growers that want to transition to organic production, including:
- National Organic Program, $24 million. The National Organic Program develops and enforces consistent national standards for USDA certified organic products.
- Organic Transitions Research Program, $9 million. The Organic Transitions Research Program supports the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices.
- Organic Certification Cost-Share Program, $4 million. The Organic Certification Cost- Share Program provides cost share assistance to producers and handlers of agricultural products who are obtaining or renewing their certification under the National Organic Program.
- Organic Production and Market Data Initiative, $1 million. USDA provides domestic and international price reporting, economic analyses, census data, and other information on organic production and marketing.
- Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program, $50 million. The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program is USDA’s premier research program for sustainable agriculture research.