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Variation in Organic Standards Prior to the National Organic Program


  • T. Robert Fetter
  • Julie A. Caswell


Interest in establishing nationally uniform certification, labeling, and management standards for organic products grew out of concern that the existence of multiple standards led to consumer and supply chain confusion about, and lack of confidence in, these products. The National Organic Program Final Rule, issued in December 2000, is the result of this interest. We analyze the certification system that was in place prior to the new national rule to evaluate the extent of differences between certification standards and how the national rule is likely to impact the market for organic products. Our analysis suggests that most differences among US certification standards were minor. Also, the most important impacts of the national standard may be in facilitating trade in ingredients and products certified by different certifiers, increasing buyer confidence, and facilitating exports. However, the national rule may decrease the ability of organic certifiers and consumers to place differing emphasis on the multiple goals of organic production and may decrease the flexibility of organic standards to respond to changing market conditions, including new technologies.

Suggested Citation

  • T. Robert Fetter & Julie A. Caswell, 2002. "Variation in Organic Standards Prior to the National Organic Program," Food Marketing Policy Center Research Reports 072, University of Connecticut, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Charles J. Zwick Center for Food and Resource Policy.
  • Handle: RePEc:zwi:fpcrep:072

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    Cited by:

    1. Batte, Marvin T. & Hooker, Neal H. & Haab, Timothy C. & Beaverson, Jeremy, 2007. "Putting their money where their mouths are: Consumer willingness to pay for multi-ingredient, processed organic food products," Food Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 145-159, April.
    2. Simcoe, Timothy & Toffel, Michael W., 2014. "Government green procurement spillovers: Evidence from municipal building policies in California," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 411-434.
    3. Mojduszka, Eliza M., 2004. "Private And Public Food Safety Control Mechanisms: Interdependence And Effectiveness," 2004 Annual meeting, August 1-4, Denver, CO 19987, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    4. Deaton, Brady J., Jr. & Hoehn, John P., 2003. "Information As A Double-Edge Sword: Implications For Food Standards And Labels," 2003 Annual meeting, July 27-30, Montreal, Canada 22235, American Agricultural Economics Association (New Name 2008: Agricultural and Applied Economics Association).
    5. Katie Abrams & Courtney Meyers & Tracy Irani, 2010. "Naturally confused: consumers’ perceptions of all-natural and organic pork products," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(3), pages 365-374, September.
    6. Timothy Simcoe & Michael W. Toffel, 2012. "Public Procurement and the Private Supply of Green Buildings," NBER Working Papers 18385, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Daniel Jaffee & Philip Howard, 2010. "Corporate cooptation of organic and fair trade standards," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 27(4), pages 387-399, December.


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