Happy New Year 2018!

Happy New Year friends of Recirculating Farms Coalition and Growing Local NOLA! It’s hard to believe that another new year has already begun. We had an incredibly eventful 2017: from the big win at the National Organics Standards Board Meeting to moving our farm and beginning exciting new partnerships with the New Orleans Mission and Top Box Foods to initiating our new “On The Geaux” mobile programming and hosting a series of farm loan workshops with the USDA Farm Service Agency and other partners –  we have definitely kept busy!

As we look ahead, we are excited about all the new possibilities for 2018.

Big THANKS to You!

On this day of giving thanks – we here at Recirculating Farms thank all our friends, family and supporters throughout the years. We have seen many important changes in laws, policies, behaviors and attitudes related to growing food, and are grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the amazing good food movement. So THANK YOU for all you do in making our world better each day.

BIG WIN: NOSB Says Hydro and Aqua ponics are USDA Organic!

On November 1, 2017, thousands of farmers nationwide waited to hear if the National Organics Standards Board, an advisory body to the USDA, would decide that hydroponic and aquaponic farms could remain eligible for the USDA Organic certification – a process which allows products from these farms to carry the USDA Organic label.

For years, hydro and aqua ponic farms have been certified as USDA Organic. But recently, this certification has been up for discussion. Ultimately, a majority of the Board recognized that expanding the organics program to be inclusive of various types of farming promotes innovation and smart resource use. This makes good sense, especially for a planet with a changing climate, and assorted challenges in reducing use of water, energy and space. Embracing assorted forms of sustainable agriculture makes for a resilient, inclusive and stronger food system for the U.S.

Our Executive Director, Marianne Cufone made the following statement in response to the NOSB decision:

“We’re very pleased that the NOSB made the right decision by voting not to prohibit hydroponic and aquaponic farms from USDA Organic certification. Many products from these farms already carry a USDA Organic label and to now withdraw that would be irresponsible and confusing for consumers and farmers.

“By siding with current science and recognizing that existing law purposely leaves the door open for various farming methods, the NOSB is sending a critical message that sustainability and innovation are valuable in U.S. agriculture. These goals are at the center of the nationwide local food movement and spur growth of urban and rural farms alike, by a wide range of people. Inclusiveness is important in our food system.

“The Board did vote to prohibit use of aeroponics in USDA Organic production and indicated they would discuss what type of label hydroponic and aquaponic USDA Organic certified products would display. We will be very involved as these issues move forward.”

Read Marianne’s comments to the NOSB here.

Johns Hopkins: Near and Offshore Finfish Aquaculture Poses Risks

Expanding nearshore finfish farming or establishing an offshore industry in the U.S. carries significant risks to aquatic ecosystems and public health, according to a report published by researchers at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, in the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health and Engineering.

The report assesses whether an expanded industry in the US would be environmentally sound and safe based on current production practices.The research team found the major issues surrounding NOFA to be: large numbers of recent farmed fish escapes, infectious disease outbreaks on farms, development of drug resistant parasites and bacteria, persistence of veterinary drugs in the environment, fish waste causing local and regional ecosystem impacts, and dangers that could cause elevated rates of injury and death among workers.

See the full report here.

Federal Fish Farming Lawsuit Moves Forward

On September 21st commercial and recreational fishing groups, and conservation, consumer and farming organizations jointly filed their arguments in a legal brief on why the federal government cannot allow industrial aquaculture in U.S. waters. Read more here.

The new filings are notably significant, as the entire case could be won or lost on the information just submitted. The next likely steps in the suit are for the government to respond to the arguments made by the groups regarding why the government should not make this rule allowing fish farming in the Gulf of Mexico, and then for the judge to render a decision.