Our friends with Keep the Soil in Organic shared a wonderful article with us about the Rally in the Valley—an event held this past weekend to oppose the weakening of the USDA organic labeling standards. Learn more about the rally below, and thanks to our many friends and farmers in the organic movement for sharing this with us!
Event shines light on the importance of soil as the foundation of organic growing
On Sunday, October 15th, a crowd of farmers and pioneers of the organic movement assembled for a Rally to protect the organic food label, in Hanover, NH. A tractor cavalcade led by festive music from members of the The Big Bang Bhangra Brass Band and a parade of farmers and organic supporters with colorful puppets, and banners and signs celebrating soil health, marched down Main street to the Dartmouth Green where leaders in the organic movement gave informative speeches on the myriad of issues surrounding the watering down of organic standards to allow hydroponic growing practices.
Congressman Peter Welch attended the Rally for the second year in a row to show his support for the plethora of regional organic farms. “Look” he said, “organic is about soil, not chemicals and water.”
Roger Noonan, Farmer and President of the New England Farmers Union spoke saying that “If we as farmers and consumers don’t’ raise our voices in opposition to the continued weakening of the organic label the only green left in organics will be the dollars reaped by the largest agribusinesses.”
“If the NOP continues to allow hydroponics to be recognized as a certified organic, our organic standards will be watered down to the point where they will no longer hold value to ourselves as farmers or to our customers.” echoed organic farmer, Lisa McCrory of Earthwise Farm & Forest in Randolph, VT.
“Consumers are being lied to!” said rally organizer Cat Buxton. “When we buy organic we expect soil grown food. We expect integrity and authenticity.” She said to cheers of agreement from the crowd. “Producers need to comply with the standards, not the other way around. Hydroponic needs it's own label. Period.”
Supporters of organic food paraded through downtown Hanover on Sunday to protest and raise awareness of the recent weakening of USDA organic standards to allow unlabeled hydroponic foods to bear the USDA Organic label.
The Hanover, NH Rally was one of five rallies held across the country on Sunday alone, and one of eighteen rallies held this fall. Rallies in Boulder CO, Scarborough ME, Ojai CA, and La Crosse WI also took place on Sunday. The series of Rallies are to publicly oppose the weakening of USDA Organic labeling standards and to demand that the National Organic Program preserve soil as the foundation of all organic farming. Rallies are being organized in England, Canada, Costa Rica, and across the US from California to Maine. The final Rally will take place at the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) meeting on October 31 in Jacksonville, Florida.
As rallies have grown in size and in number over the past 3 years, it is clear that the trend toward a just and transparent food system that promotes soil health, ecological health, and human health has only just begun.