OLYMPIA – Leaders of the state departments of agriculture adopted a policy statement expressing broad support for organic farming at the annual meeting of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA). NASDA’s strategic policy initiatives are designed to enhance U.S. agricultural competitiveness and ensure the survivability and enhance the profitability of American producers.
“We’re delighted with the policy statement,” said Miles McEvoy, president of the National Association of State Organic Programs (NASOP), and manager of the Organic Program at the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA). “Our leaders recognize the importance of organic agriculture to U.S. farmers, processors, and consumers.” NASOP became an affiliate member of NASDA in 2002.
The policy statement supports:
• Full and consistent implementation and enforcement of the National Organic Program and its organic production and handling standards;
• Cooperation between the National Organic Program and experienced public and private certifying agencies;
• Efforts to increase the economic growth of the organic industry with marketing assistance;
• Increasing activity in organic research and education; and,
• Collecting statistics on organic production and market growth in order to provide reliable information about the industry to farmers, marketers, and elected officials.
“This policy provides a framework for NASDA to support research and marketing assistance for organic agriculture,” said Jennifer Yezak Molen, director of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs at NASDA. “We will work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to promote cooperation between the National Organic Program and the state departments of agriculture.”
Organic farming is a growing concern for U.S. agriculture. USDA’s Economic Research Service has tracked growth of certified organic acreage in the U.S. at nearly 75 percent in recent years. Industry studies show retail sales have grown by 20 percent or more per year during the past decade.
WSDA certifies 864 organic producers and handlers. Sales of WSDA-certified organic food products exceeded $200 million in 2002. Acreage in organic food production has increased from 12,000 acres in 1997 to 46,000 acres.
NASDA represents state departments of agriculture in the development, implementation, and communication of sound public policy and programs that support and promote the American agricultural industry, while protecting consumers and the environment. Its members are commissioners, secretaries, and directors. For more information about NASDA, visit the Web site at www.nasda.org.
NASOP is a national association of state officials that provides a forum for discussing the promotion and regulation of the organic food industry. The association explores issues of administering organic programs, facilitates communication among the member’s respective agencies, and represents common interests to other national organizations and federal agencies.
For information about NASOP or WSDA’s Organic Food Program, contact Miles McEvoy, NASOP president, by phone (360) 902-1924 or e-mail [email protected], or visit the Web site at http://agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/Organic/default.htm.
The full text of NASDA’s policy statement is on the Internet at http://www.nasda.org/nasda/nasda/Calendar/NASDA2003_reports/policies/18.pdf.
NASOP contact: Miles McEvoy (360) 902-1924
NASDA contact: Jennifer Yezak Molen (202) 296-9680