In this Nov. 2, 2017 photo provided by Recirculating Farms Coalition, red lettuce grows at an aquaponic farm, a form of hydroponic cultivation, in Hilliard, Fla. The National Organic Standards Board, which advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture, voted in early November 2017 to allow produce raised hydroponically without soil to be certified as organic. Following the vote, some traditional organic farmers say they are working on an alternative to the USDA certification. (Recirculating Farms Coalition via AP)

Hydroponic histrionics? Organic purists assail designation

November 15, 2017 - 12:37 am

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) — Some traditional organic farmers say allowing hydroponic farms to be certified organic is watering down the integrity of the $16 billion U.S. organic produce industry.

They say organic farming is about far more than not using synthetic pesticides. They say it's rooted in enhancing the fertility of soils.

The National Organic Standards Board advises the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It voted this month against a proposal to exclude hydroponic farming from the USDA's organic certification program.

Marianne Cufone is executive director of the Recirculating Farms Coalition, which represents hydroponic and aquaponic farms. She says the board is "sending a critical message that sustainability and innovation are valuable in U.S. agriculture."

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