Tag: Aquaponic Organic Coalition

Organic Comment Fall 2017

Aquaponics and Hydroponics Organic Coalition Comment for the Fall 2017 NOSB Meeting

The Aquaponic and Hydroponic Organic Coalition recommends that the NOSB allow organic certification of aquaponic and hydroponic (AP/HP) farms that are compliant with USDA organic standards. These farming methods align with the organic

mission and the integrity of the organic label stands much to gain by including them.

AP/HP are critical to improving the sustainability of our agricultural system, but revoking organic eligibility would move these industries backwards at a time we must foster their growth.

AP/HP fit the Organic mission. The Organic label is about empowering consumers to identify products that match their values. Consumers do not prefer organic because it is grown in soil; they prefer it because it is pesticide-free, environmentally sustainable, and relies on natural ecosystems for plant growth. So the question is: do AP/HP align with what the consumer expects when they purchase organic? Yes.

“Organic” is perceived by consumers to mean:

-Production without synthetic chemicals. AP/HP do not require synthetic pesticides or fertilizers.

-Production that fosters the cycling of resources, ecological balance, and biodiversity conservation. AP/HP can be constructed as closed-loop ecosystems in which only the minimum required water and nutrients are added and with minimal or no discharge. AP/HP have also proven they can produce more food than soil culture per land area, thus saving more of the natural environment from the toll of agriculture.

-Production that relies on biological ecosystems to support plant health. Organic AP/HP production relies on a robust microflora in the root zone—made of the same types and numbers of bacteria and fungi that thrive in soil. This flora converts nutrients into forms available to plants and maintains plant health by reinforcing naturally-occurring mechanisms of disease resistance—just as in a healthy soil. (see attached Soil Food Web Report)

-Production that responds to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices. Consumers expect that organic produce has been grown with a healthy human element, where local customs, expertise, and ingenuity can overcome droughts, concrete jungles, and climate changes. AP/HP allow environmentally-sensitive agriculture where growing in soil isn’t possible.

The benefits of AP/HP include: water savings, reduced nutrient use and fertilizer runoff, shorter supply chains, food safety, and space efficiency.

In an era of climate change, resource depletion, and rapid population growth, the organic price premium is a critical incentive to draw more entrants into this market. If the NOSB revokes AP/HP organic eligibility, these industries will not grow as quickly and our environment, health, and economy will suffer.

AP/HP align with the values of organic that consumers expect, and they are highly sustainable. Rather than placing a greater toll on our environment and health, the NOSB should retain the organic eligibility of aquaponics and hydroponics.

Thank you,
The Aquaponic and Hydroponic Organic Coalition

Agua Dulce Farm
Anacostia Aquaponics
Aquaberry Gardens
Arbordale Nurseries
Archi’s Institute
Association for Vertical Farming
Austin Aquaponics
Berry Audit Services
Blue Mojo Farm, LLC
Boto Waterworks
Cali Summer Clubs
CC Grow Inc.
CEA Fresh Farms
Center Valley Organics LLC
Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy
City of Minot North Dakota
NC Simple Life Farms LLC
Downtown Farms and Aquaponics
Fazenda Urbana Inc.
Fresh Farm Aquaponics, Inc
Freshies Aquaponics
Friendly Aquaponics, Inc
Gateshead Consulting Corporation
Great Lakes Growers LLC
Heartland Aquaponics, LLC
Jenoe Group – Hydroponics
JoLi Farms
Joyful J Farms
Kabcao Aquaponics
Laughing Bear Enterprises
Living Justly Industries
Lotus Urban Farm and Garden Supply
Making Seeds 2 Cell
Manas Organic
Marine Science Faculty, Autonomous University of Sinaloa
Moroccan association of hydroponics
Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation
Oko Farms, LLC
Profound Microfarms
Rainsmith Agritech/Aquaponics
Renew Richmond
Solar Spice and Tea Trading Company
Springworks Farm
Symbiotic Aquaponic
Synergy Star Events
TerraFirma Aquaponixx
Texas Organic Matters
The Family Fish Farms Network, Inc
Trifecta Ecosystems, Inc
Verticulture Farms
Windy City Harvest / Chicago Botanic Garden
Yep Yep Organic Farm

Amber C. Monroe
Andrew Carter
Everett L Melton
Imad Jabbour
Ivy Diene
Juan Pablo Pesalaccia
Krishnagopal Sharma
Marc L. Maynard
Matthew Henley
Peter Tyler
Xina Ash

Contact: brian.filipowich@gmail.com

Organic Issue

Join the Aquaponic and Hydroponic Organic Coalition 

The National Organic Standards Board will vote this November to formally recommend banning organic aquaponics and hydroponics, help us fight back!

CLICK HERE to join the effort

CLICK HERE to view the Coalition’s comment letter to the NOSB

The Aquaponics Association has established the Aquaponic and Hydroponic Organic Coalition. The mission of the Coalition is to retain our industries’ organic eligibility and, if necessary, work to develop specific aquaponic and hydroponic organic standards.

Membership in the Coalition is free and open to any and all businesses, organizations, institutions, or plain old ordinary citizens who believe that aquaponics and hydroponics should be eligible for USDA organic certification.

Why Are We Forming the Aquaponic and Hydroponic Organic Coalition?

We need to start growing with more aquaponics and hydroponics (AP/HP) to be able to feed our growing population without causing irreparable harm to our environment and our health. But in order to increase our volume, AP/HP have to be commercially viable. The organic label allows growers to earn a premium for their produce and can be the difference between a profitable farm or bankruptcy. If practiced appropriately, AP/HP embody the spirit of organic that consumers expect: they are highly sustainable and do not require antibiotics or synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. And in a measure critical to organic classification – the quantity and diversity of root microbes- AP/HP are comparable to the flora in compost.

Urban agriculture is often forced to be soilless because of space and/or contaminated soil. Organic certification allows a premium price, which can be critical for urban operations’ survival because of high land prices. In other words: a “soil-only” organic rule would devastate urban agriculture, an important source of urban employment and upward mobility.

Sustainable Advantages of Aquaponics and Hydroponics Over Soil Culture

AP/HP use 90% less water than soil crops! In the U.S., agriculture accounts for approximately EIGHTY PERCENT of our fresh water usage.  In 2015 NASA documented the shocking depletion of global groundwater resources, finding that 21 of the worlds’ 37 largest aquifers are experiencing unsustainable depletion.

AP/HP are closed-loop systems, meaning there is no nutrient or fertilizer runoff. Runoff from soil agriculture disrupts the natural ecosystem and causes massive aquatic “dead zones”, like in the Chesapeake Bay or the Gulf of Mexico.

AP/HP can grow food more densely and produce more food for a given area than soil-based agriculture. A “soil-only” organic philosophy requires the destruction of more natural space to feed our growing population.

What Will the Aquaponic and Hydroponic Organic Coalition Do?

Coalition members will receive updates from the Aquaponics Association when events occur regarding AP/HP grower’s organic eligibility.

During critical moments of USDA deliberation, the Aquaponics Association will ask Coalition Members to take voluntary action. Examples of such actions include:

  • signing group advocacy letters to the USDA or Congress;
  • individually contacting the USDA or your representatives in Congress;
  • providing the Coalition with information about your operations and how changes to AP/HP organic eligibility would affect you;
  • seeking other like-minded business or organizations to join our Coalition; or
  • attending regional meetings, such as the National Organic Standards Board’s November 16 meeting in St. Louis, MO.

How is the Aquaponic and Hydroponic Organic Coalition Organized?

The Coalition is managed by the Aquaponics Association. The Association has an Organics Committee that advises it on matters related to AP/HP organic eligibility. If you have particular expertise in AP/HP organic eligibility and believe you could be helpful to the operation of the Coalition, please email community@legacy.aquaponicsassociation.org with a brief note about yourself and your background — we can use all the help we can get!

Current State of Organic Rules
In 2010, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) recommended prohibiting “hydroponic and aeroponic” systems from organic certification due to their “exclusion of soil-plant ecology intrinsic to organic farming systems”. Such a rule would apply to aquaponics as well. However, the data shows beneficial microbes are abundant on the roots of hydroponic and aquaponic plants. “Sterile hydroponics” is an urban legend—and should never be the basis for excluding it from organics.

Despite the NOSB’s recommendation, the USDA’s National Organics Program (NOP) did not take action and aquaponics and hydroponics have still been organic-eligible. (The NOSB is an advisory body to the NOP)

The NOP appointed a Hydroponic and Aquaponic Task Force. The Task Force just issued a report, which can be found here. And the NOSB in September, 2016 officially released a new recommendation, on which they will vote in November:

“…the NOSB supports the decisions by previous boards by recommending that hydroponics, aeroponics, bioponics or aquaponics are not consistent with organic production due to their exclusion of the soil-plant ecology intrinsic to organic farming systems.” – NOSB Proposals and Discussion Documents in preparation for the November 2016 meeting

The Aquaponics Association, through the guidance of its Organics Committee, plans to provide a comment to the NOSB proposal and mount an advocacy campaign to ensure that AP/HP production retains its eligibility for organic certification.

If you have any questions or comments on this issue, please email community@legacy.aquaponicsassociation.org.