Organic certification has experienced incredible growth, and growing pains, since the adoption of official National Organic Program (NOP) Certification Regulations in October 2002. Some people still question whether the U.S. government is capable of creating and effectively enforcing farming practice standards that support truly sustainable, environmentally sound farming systems at both the large and small scale.
Research and demonstration work at Rodale Institute is designed to address two points in the organic certification debate. First, the Rodale Institute farm is comprised of both large-scale and small-scale farming systems (acres of agronomic field crops and pasture planted alongside hand-managed demonstration gardens) to show farmers, researchers and the general public ways in which the NOP Certification Standards can be employed and met on both scales. Secondly, the Rodale Institute research team directs some of its efforts to test existing regulatory guidelines in the field to see if they can be improved and made more efficient and effective for famers while generating better quality products for consumers at the same time.
This two-pronged approach helps to show producers that organic certification is achievable and valuable at any scale. It also helps to inform the ongoing debate and refinement of certification regulations based upon the realities that producers meet on the ground, truly improving the environmental sustainability of farming.