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Real Organic Project
in the News

January 7, 2019
Contact: Dave Chapman, 802-299-7737
Dr. Linley Dixon, 970-317-0309
Thetford, VT

Real Organic Project open for public comment

Erosion of USDA organic standards demands new certification process for farmers

The Real Organic Project (ROP) is calling for public input on its crop and livestock standards. The standards were created to help organic farms that pasture livestock and foster soil fertility differentiate themselves under the USDA Organic program, which no longer requires soil for plants nor enforces pasture for animals.

The group of farmers, scientists, certifiers, and retailers inspected sixty applicant farms in a pilot project last summer.

The current standards are considered provisional and the group’s Real Organic Standards Board (ROSB) will review them this winter in light of results from the pilot project and feedback from the public.

“The aim is to bring organic standards back in line with consumer expectations of Organic,” said Executive Director and Vermont organic farmer Dave Chapman.

The USDA’s Organic Program’s allowance of organic certification for hydroponic and confinement dairy and poultry operations were critical issues that spawned the “add-on” certification.

“The need for the Real Organic Project became clear after the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) failed to support a proposal to require organic crops to be grown in fertile soils,” said Francis Thicke, recently retired USDA NOSB member and current ROSB President. “To make things worse the USDA rejected the animal welfare rules passed by the NOSB,” he added.

The farmer-led ROP has assembled three boards: Executive, Standards, and Advisory, altogether comprising 45 respected leaders from the organic community, including five current and ten former NOSB members.

“The standards include policies that the organic community has been supporting for years,” said Dr. Linley Dixon, ROSB member and director of the Pilot Program. “Our standards include requirements to pasture all livestock including poultry, improve soil fertility, greenhouse energy efficiency, and the organic origin of livestock. Plus, we’ve set up a collaborative process from which the organic community can continue to address improvements under the organic seal into the future.”

The Real Organic Project Provisional Standards can be found online. The deadline to submit written comments is February 2, 2019.

“We welcome feedback from the organic community throughout this process as we work to re-establish the integrity of organic food, for the benefit of organic producers and consumers,” said Chapman.


Vermont Tomato Farmer Leads Defense of Organic Principles
Melissa Pasanen, Seven Days, April 18, 2018

Farmers Disagree On Whether Soil-Free Growing Can Be Organic
CBS San Fransisco, May 1, 2018

Organic farmers form ‘Real Organic Project’ to ensure strong standards
Francis Thicke, Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service, May-June 2018

The Real Organic Project: Disgusted With the USDA, Farmers Make Their Own Organic Label
Dan Nosowitz, Modern Farmer, March 5, 2018

Organic dairy farmers vow to compete in changing industry
David Pitt, AP News

Upset Over Policy Differences and that Major GMO/Chemical Companies are Members of the Organic Trade Association, Nature’s Path Quits the Organization as a Protest to Save Organic
Max Goldberg, Living Maxwell, July 23, 2018

Real Organic Project seeks add-on label to USDA organic seal
Tim Karst, July 17, 2018

A New Product Label Promises a Higher Standard for Organic Food
Jed Oelbaum, Make Change, (no date)


Organic Producers Seek New Label As Doubts Over National Standards Grow
Wisconsin Public Radio, May 3, 2018

Dave Chapman Interview
Food Sleuth Radio, April 26, 2018

Dave Chapman of Long Wind Farm on Growing Greenhouse Tomatoes, Managing a Business, and the Fight to Keep the Soil in Organic
Farmer to Farmer Podcast, 135

Organic Farming: New EU rules Adopted
Maria Daniela Lenzu, Council of the European Union, May 22, 2018

Really Organic – Dave Chapman
Farm to Table Talk, May 25, 2018

Pioneering Leader in Organic Food Production Resigns from Industry Lobby Group
Cornucopia, July 2, 2018

Real Organic Project seeks add-on label to USDA organic seal
Tom Karst, The Packer, July 17, 2018

Trump’s USDA Is Killing Rules That Organic Food Makers Want
The organic industry has sought out government oversight to reassure consumers. Now some worry that deregulation could chip away at that confidence.
Andrew Martin and Shruti Singh, July 11, 2018

A New Product Label Promises a Higher Standard for Organic Food
Jed Oelbaum, Make Change

Organic Dairy Farmers Vow to Compete in Changing Industry
David Pitt, Associated Press, August 9, 2018

Is the “Organic” Seal Worth it, Given Disputes on Standards?
Candce Choi, Associated Press, November 12, 2018