Washington, D.C.—A panel of organic farmers testified before a Congressional committee on Wednesday, urging lawmakers and USDA to advance organic and enforce organic standards, according to a press release from the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

The growers told members of the House Agricultural Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture and Research that the organic sector must be allowed to evolve and improve in order to continue to flourish. The called for consistent organic regulations, adequate safety net programs, help for farmers transitioning to organic, research dollars dedicated to organic, and protection from organic fraud.

Jeff Huckaby, President of Grimmway Farms/Cal-Organic vegetable farms and a member of OTA, said in his testimony: “Organic farmers and businesses are unique in that they rely on the federal government to develop and maintain strong regulations for the organic sector. The future of organic will depend on the federal government keeping pace with the marketplace. Organic regulations must be meaningful and strong… The public-private partnership between the organic industry and USDA is a process that must embody continuous improvement and evolution of the organic standards to meet consumer expectations.”
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The other members of the panel were Benjamin Whalen, organic vegetable, flower, and herb grower from Maine; Jeremy Brown, organic cotton farmer from Texas; Shelli Brin, organic fruit and vegetable grower from the Virgin Islands; and Steve Pierson, organic dairy farmer from Oregon, member of the Organic Valley cooperative, and member of the OTA.

Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association, said in the release: “Today’s hearing was especially notable in that all the growers on the panel—no matter how big or small an operation, no matter what crops they farmed or in what area—all agree that organic needs strong and consistent support from the government to enable continuous improvement in the sector. We thank Chairwoman Stacey Plaskett for making this hearing possible, and all the committee members for their interest in organic and their support of organic agriculture.”