Sunday afternoon, hundreds rallied in East Thetford to raise awareness about the fight to prevent hydroponically grown food from being labeled as Certified Organic.
“The ecosystem of the soil is really the foundation of what we as organic farmers work for,” said Suzanne Long of Luna Bleu Farms.
Organic farmers like Davey Miskell say a few years ago, he and other farmers noticed a large amount of organically labeled food being exported from Mexico.
“We found out that they weren’t being organically grown in the soil, that they were being organically quote on quote, grown in hydroponic systems,” said Miskell.
It means the food relies on nutrient solutions in water, without soil.
Congressman Peter Welch says around the world, countries have laws to prevent hydroponically grown food from being sold as organic, but it does not necessarily prevent those products from being exported to the United States.
“I’m not against hydroponic, none of us are, but I am against freeloading, and free riding and that’s essentially what’s happening,” said Welch.
Senator Patrick Leahy echoed those sentiments, saying “let’s keep organic, organic.” He said he and his colleagues will fight for the issue in Washington.
“We are united on this one. It’s not a Democrat or a Republican issue, it’s the right issue,” said Leahy.
In mid-November, the National Organic Standards Board will hold a vote to decide if hydroponically grown foods can be labeled organic.