Opinion: Why the National Organic Program’s funding should be eliminated, not just cut


[Editor’s note: Henry Miller is a physician and molecular biologist, and a Fellow in Scientific Philosophy and Public Policy at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He was the founding director of the FDA’s Office of Biotechnology. Julie Kelly is a food writer and National Review Online contributor.]

The House Committee on Appropriations [met July 12] to consider the full committee markup of the FY2018 Agriculture Appropriations Bill. We hope it will reflect a guiding principle articulated in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial: “if you’re going to propose cutting a program, you might as well try to eliminate it. The political pain is as great and if you succeed the payoff is greater.”

The budget proposed by the president would, in fact, zero out several programs at the Department of Agriculture, and we would suggest adding one more: the National Organic Program, which is rent-seeking pure and simple.

Subsidized to the tune of $160 million annually, it has more in common with Whole Foods’ marketing department than sound government. For example, the NOP is charged with “protecting the integrity of the USDA organic seal, from farm to market, around the world.” When it was established in 1990, Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman emphasized the fundamental meaninglessness of the organic designation: “Let me be clear about one thing, the organic label is a marketing tool. It is not a statement about food safety. Nor is ‘organic’ a value judgment about nutrition or quality.”

That is pretty clear, and worth repeating: The organic label is no more than a marketing tool. But it is a tool has been grossly abused.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: “Federal Subsidies To Organic Agriculture Should Be Plowed Under”