Opening Statements

Opening Statement: Ranking Member Neal Dunn Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research Public Hearing: “Assessing the Effectiveness of the National Organic Program”

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Washington, July 17, 2019 | comments

Remarks as prepared for delivery:

Madam Chair, thank you for holding today’s hearing to review the National Organic Program.

Consumer demand for agricultural goods produced under the organic seal continues to show double-digit growth, providing market incentives for U.S. farmers across a broad range of products. According to USDA, organic sales account for over 4% of total U.S. food sales. U.S. farms and ranches sold $7.6 billion in certified organic commodities in 2016, up 23% from the year before.

However, these successes have not come without challenges. Increases in domestic production have still not been enough to keep up with increases in demand, which has created import pressures. Over the last several years, we have continued to hear reports of fraudulent imports of organic products coming into the U.S., undercutting domestic producers and creating distrust among organic consumers.

The 2018 Farm Bill tackled the problem by providing the National Organic Program with additional authorities to secure the industry from fraud, including robust import certification, access to cross-border documentation systems administered by other federal agencies, and oversight of certifying agents operating in foreign countries. I know USDA has made good progress in implementing these provisions, and I look forward to hearing an update from Under Secretary Ibach today.

Finally, I would like to highlight a few other challenges that…in my view…threaten the legitimacy of the program and the organic industry as a whole. Pushing overly-prescriptive regulations, disparaging non-organic production practices, and inhibiting organic producers’ ability to use innovative practices will not move the industry forward.

Selling products under the organic seal comes with significant responsibility, and it is my hope that the National Organic Program, in addition to other USDA marketing programs, can continue to serve as an effective value-added tool benefiting the agricultural community as a whole.

Thank you, Under Secretary Ibach, for being here today. I look forward to hearing your testimony. Madam Chair, with that I yield back.
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