A ruling issued March 19 by the U.S. District Court in San Francisco has upheld the legality of U.S. Department of Agriculture certification of organic hydroponic operations.
“USDA’s ongoing certification of hydroponic systems that comply with all applicable regulations is firmly planted in (the) Organic Food Production Act,” Richard Seeborg, chief U.S. District Judge, said in the ruling. which answered a lawsuit by the Center for Food Safety challenging USDA’s certification of hydroponic organic operations.
The issue of certification of hydroponic operations has been a point of contention since the mid-1990s.
The Coalition for Sustainable Organics, a group supporting organic hydroponic certifications, welcomed the ruling.
“Our membership believes that everyone deserves organic,” Lee Frankel, executive director of the Coalition for Sustainable Organics, said in the news release. “The decision is a major victory for producers and consumers working together to make organics more accessible and the supply more resilient. The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased demand for fresh organic vegetables and fruits as consumers look to healthy foods to bolster their immune systems and protect their family’s health. The court preserves historically important supplies of berries, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, mushrooms, leafy greens, herbs, sprouts and microgreens that are frequently grown using containers or other hydroponic organic systems.”
Joanna Jaramillo, marketing specialist for organic hydroponic producer Wholesum, Amado, Ariz., also expressed support for the court ruling.
“We support embracing technology and innovation in agriculture to ensure that healthy, high-quality and responsibly grown organic food is available and accessible,” she said March 25.