The natural foods retail industry strongly supports the national stan-
dards. The Grocery Manufacturers of America represents food producers
such as Kellogg's, Heinz, and Del Monte and they note, “standards bring a
much needed uniformity”; whether consumers “live in California, Kansas,
or Georgia,” certified organic will have the same meaning (Pickrell 2002).
Likewise, Whole Foods Market, the world's largest retailer of natural and
organic foods, stated that the regulations come “at a time when shoppers are
actively seeking out organic foods more than ever before” (Pickrell 2002).
This highlights the conflict between the market-driven success of organic
products and the grassroots ethical concerns of organic farming (Vos 2000).
Further, the national standards will promote market stability and export
markets, but will not necessarily support a locally based “socially and envi-
ronmentally sustainable agriculture and food system” (DeLind 2000, 198). It
is not clear how these divergent ideas will be balanced within the framework
of the new regulations, but it seems that market growth is currently driving
Well, for all this praise from the natural foods retailers, many organic
farmers are still leery of the new standards. Some smaller organic growers
feel that certification is not in their best interest, particularly if the costs for
federal standards increases their fees. These farmers point out that the word
organic is now owned by the USDA, and they need to search for a different
term to describe their farming methods ( Growing for Market 2002; Coleman
2002). On the other hand, for larger-scale farms the national regulations
should provide uniformity that could strengthen consumer knowledge and
demand for organic products. This may even increase perceptions of prod-
uct reliability, and uniformity will expand export demand. Apparently, there
still exists strong antiorganic (or at least organic neutral) feelings within the
USDA, and the national standards do createmore paperwork for each farmer.
So the jury is still out on the national standards. The best case scenario is that
we can say, after five years, that the standards have helped bolster demand
and knowledge about organic products, and this has assisted some farmers
in making a successful transition to organic farming.
Lines: 319 to 329
PgEnds: T E X
RE SEARCH AND INFORMATION
The National Standards represent an agricultural policy that obviously af-
fects organic farmers, but they are also adversely affected by many indirect
political actions. For example, many agricultural programs simply bypass
organic farmers because their diverse operations don't qualify them for
commodity assistance programs that provide key income for industrial