How the bitter debate over a producer-funded organic “checkoff” program reveals a movement’s growing pains—and the fault lines of American agriculture
March 9th , 2017 by Joe Fassler
The history of the organic movement has been marked by vigorous debate about the meaning of the word, which priorities matter most, and who gets to decide. From early arguments about closed-loop systems and off-farm inputs to more recent dust-ups over lawn waste and hydroponics, the term has always been a flashpoint for larger disputes about ethics, economics, and environmental stewardship. So it means a lot to say that the industry is facing the starkest, most bitterly divisive choice it has confronted since the acrimonious process, back in 2000, that led to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s official certification standard.