The International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA) welcomed the introduction of the Continuous Improvement in Organic Standards Act (CIAO) 2023. The legislation would amend the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 to provide a streamlined and predictable process to review and revise organic standards implemented by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It would enable the improvement and advancement of organic to forge ahead into the future.
The bill is a product of a coalition of industry partners, including the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance, the Organic Trade Association, the Organic Produce Association, the National Organic Coalition, and the Organic Farmer’s Association.
ARS and APHIS also use this model of establishing a work plan based on stakeholder input and adding transparency and accountability to the standards process.
IFPA has worked closely with OTA and Northwest Hort to secure a Republican lead on the bill, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and a Democratic lead, Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA).
“IFPA thanks Reps. Dan Newhouse, Jimmy Panetta, Salud Carbajal, Chellie Pingree, David Valadao, and our fellow members of the industry coalition for support of the Continuous Improvement in Organic Standards Act of 2023,” said Vice President of U.S. Government Relations, Rebeckah Adcock.
“Since the first nationwide standards were established in 2000, the network of requirements and regulations that monitor the organic industry has been a gold standard for food and agricultural systems worldwide,” Adcock added.
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The 1990 Organic Foods Production Act was set to “establish national standards” that help consumers know that their purchasing products are produced consistently.
Since the first nationwide standards were established in 2000, the network of requirements and regulations that monitor the organic industry has been a gold standard for food and agricultural systems worldwide. However, over the past several years, the federal regulatory apparatus has fallen behind, slowing innovation and continuous improvement within the industry.
“The organic sector has to be able to keep improving and evolving to meet the future needs and desires of both producers and consumers, and this legislation goes far to enable that progress,” said Tom Chapman, CEO of the Organic Trade Association. “Consumers are eating more organic produce than ever, and organic policy needs to be responsive to the issues that impact organic produce growers and consumers. We are grateful to work with partners like the International Fresh Produce Association to get that done.”
IFPA welcomed hundreds of industry members to Washington, D.C., during the organization’s Washington Conference in September. Attendees marched on the Hill to advocate for various industry priorities, including labor and immigration reform, nutrition, food safety, and more.
The Continuous Improvement in Organic Standards Act is one of 15 bills that this Congress has introduced directed at the reauthorization of the 2023 Farm Bill, which has the support of IFPA and the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance.
“The Organic sector has grown to more than a $67b U.S. market, with the USDA Organic seal serving as one of the most trusted consumer labels in the marketplace,” said Adcock. “However, in order to maintain that growth, the standards must be able to be responsive to changes in scientific information, environmental and ecological data, and consumer demands.”