May 11, 2020
COVID-19 challenges to organic sector outlined to USDA
The Organic Trade Association’s CEO and Executive Director Laura Batcha last week sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue outlining impacts to the organic sector due to COVID-19.
She highlighted the unique supply chain challenges the organic sector is experiencing with certification and inspections, requested that certification cost-share funding be released in a timely manner, and advocated for the release of the Strengthening Organic Enforcement proposed rule.
“Although organic farmers and businesses are resilient, creative, and cautiously optimistic during this unprecedented time, there are many unknowns about what the future will hold, and concern over the potential long-term impacts to the sector as a result,” she wrote. “Organic is a distinct supply chain, and is experiencing unique challenges related to certification, inspections, global trade, and shifting markets.”
The Organic Trade Association also requested that emergency assistance to farmers include adequate funding to cover losses for organic producers and that personal protective equipment be provided to the food and agriculture workforce.
“Although there have been calls by numerous stakeholders to halt all rulemakings and new regulations during the COVID-19 pandemic, the organic industry depends upon important updates to the organic regulations,” Batcha wrote.
OTA asked that organic growers be included in the Farm to Family Boxes program and other USDA commodity purchases.
“Many small- and medium-sized organic farmers and businesses serve local and regional markets,” Batcha wrote. “Those that participate in short supply chains and regional food systems have been impacted by stay-at-home orders, which have closed many local farmers’ markets, restaurants and schools that served as a primary source of business for these operations. Some of them are struggling to adapt, and could benefit from USDA commodity purchases that supply community-based feeding programs.”