A federal judge ruled hydroponic farms qualify for the USDA certified organic label

A U.S. District judge ruled last Friday that hydroponic farms will continue to qualify for the certified organic label. The ruling didn’t weigh in on whether growers were considered organic; rather, it determined that U.S. Department of Agriculture is within its rights to deem them so, according to Modern Farmer. The plaintiff, the Center for Food Safety, centered their case on a provision in the Organic Foods Protection Act of 1990 that requires organic farmers to “foster soil fertility,” which obviously hydroponic farmers do not. Beyond this case, there’s been a long-simmering feud between traditional organic growers and unconventional hydroponic farmers. The two sides share a similar goal in offering an alternative to chemically-intensive agriculture, but then it gets tricky when it comes down to profit. A company that wants to quickly ramp up its organic operations might look to hydroponic farming because standard organic certification takes years. Advocates of organic farming say hydroponic growers put soil-based farms at a disadvantage. Despite the recent ruling, the latter group will continue to evaluate legal options.

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