Soil-based agriculture is a practice of both sustenance and stewardship. By allowing hydroponic farmers to certifiy their crops as organic the USDA now undercuts the livelihood of thousands of small, soil-based organic farmers and gives a huge economic incentive and advantage to large-scale farmers of organically-certified, yet ecologically unregenerative produce.
Obvioulsy, agriculture that does not involve soil cannot follow the same regeneratibve measures of soil stewardship and biodiversity conservation that USDA Organic standards currently require of organic farms.
Fot this reason the National Organic Standards Board itself has recommended that organic certification be denied to hydroponic products. Similarly, Canada, Mexico, and the European Parliament currently restrict organic certification to soil-based produce.
When Trump’s USDA permitted hydroponic producers to use of the organic label it bowed to the financial influence of large-scale commercial agribusiness. Reflecting the collective outrage of the entire organic community, the Center for Food Safety (CFS) filed a legal action demanding the USDA reverse its decision and henceforth prohibit hydroponic farmers from displaying the organic label on their produce.
The filing was endorsed by over a dozen organic farmer, consumer, retailer, and certifying organizations, including the Organic Farmers Association, Northwest Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA), PCC Community Markets, and the Cornucopia Institute.