Defenders of the organic program were dealt another blow last Monday when the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it would postpone - yet again - the implementation of higher animal welfare standards. These improved guidelines were the result of a concerted effort by organic leaders, and followed thousands of public comments demanding tightened standards that would at last put a stop to factory farms taking advantage of the organic label.
Sadly, corporate lobbyists held sway in Washington. (Those interested in a detailed account of the story can find it in this article by The New Food Economy.) The growing dominance of the National Organic Program by agribusiness interests will further erode public trust in the organic label, and negatively impact the small-scale producers who rely on it to convey their commitment to ecological practices. We hope this doesn't happen, but recent developments - including the vote by the National Organic Standards Board not to prohibit hydroponics, and reports of organic fraud in the Washington Post - are grounds for concern.
Certified Naturally Grown has always been, and will continue to be, tailored for farmers who are producing food for their local and regional communities, without the use of synthetic chemicals or GMOs. Our peer-review model fosters valuable connections among farmers, and keeps paperwork to a minimum. CNG doesn't offer certification to processors or big wholesale operations, so we can't ever replace the NOP, nor would we want to. But our programs do offer an important complement to the organic label. Our certification indicates that a farm is adhering to the highest ideals of organic production, and that it's a community-based farm. Certified organic farmers who also maintain CNG certification (about 8% of our membership) often indicate that they appreciate the CNG label as a way to signify their products come from a nearby farm.
Side note: To help our CNG livestock producers and friends show their support and pride, we recently created two new shirt designs. See one below. You can order them in our T-shirt store here. Enter the discount code SALE2017 at checkout to get 20% off from Friday to Monday, 11/24 - 11/27/17.