Court Rules USDA Authorized to Certify Soil-less Hydroponic Operations as Organic

The United States District Court for the Northern District issued a ruling in a lawsuit by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) challenging USDA’s decision to allow soil-less hydroponic operations to be certified organic. Siding with the government, the Court ruled that USDA’s decision to exempt hydroponic operations from the soil fertility requirement mandatory for all soil-based crop producers was permissible because the Organic Foods Production Act did not specifically prohibit hydroponic operations. The lawsuit claimed that hydroponic operations violate organic standards for failing to build healthy soils, and asked the Court to stop USDA from allowing hydroponically-produced crops to be sold under the USDA Organic label.