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Event Description

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will co-host a public roundtable in Washington, DC on October 20, 2016, to discuss consumers’ interpretations of certain “organic” claims. The roundtable will help the agencies better understand how consumers perceive “organic” claims for non-agricultural products.

At the roundtable, invited panelists, including consumer advocates, industry representatives, and academics, will discuss the following topics:

  • Consumers’ interpretations of “organic” claims for products and services that generally fall outside the scope of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program.
  • A recent FTC-USDA study on organic claims, including its methods, limitations and conclusions.
  • Approaches to address potential deception, including consumer education.

To facilitate in-depth discussion, the panels will focus on evidence circulated to the panelists before the roundtable.

Webcast

This event was webcast. FTC staff live-tweeted the event @FTC using hashtag #OrganicFTC-USDA.

Contacts

If you have questions about the roundtable, please email green@ftc.gov or contact Matt Jones of the Bureau of Economics at 202-326-3529, or Brad Winter of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at 202-326-2597.

  • 7:45 - 9:00 am

    Registration:
    Enter at 7th and D Street, SW and proceed through airport-style security.

    9:00 - 9:25 am

    Opening
    James Kohm
    Associate Director, Division of Enforcement
    Bureau of Consumer Protection, FTC

    Welcome
    Jessica Rich
    Director, Bureau of Consumer Protection, FTC

    Introduction
    Miles McEvoy
    Deputy Administrator, National Organic Program
    Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA

    9:25 - 9:30 am Introductions by the Discussion Group:

    These speakers will participate in each of the day’s discussions:

    • John C. Bernard, University of Delaware
    • Lisa Brines, National Organic Program, National List Manager, Agricultural Marketing Service, USDA
    • Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group
    • Gwendolyn Hustvedt, Texas State University
    • Angela Jagiello, Organic Trade Association
    • Matthew Jones, Bureau of Economics, FTC
    • Laura Koss, Bureau of Consumer Protection, FTC
    • Laura MacCleery, Consumer Reports

    9:30 - 10:30 am

    Discussion 1: Consumer Misperceptions of Organic Claims in the Marketplace:  Conclusions and limitations of the evidence concerning non-agricultural products


    Moderator:
    Hampton Newsome
    Federal Trade Commission

    10:30 - 10:45 am

    Break

    10:45 - 11:45 am

    Discussion 2: Approaches to Improving Organic Claims: Further discussion of the evidence

    Moderator:
    Brad Winter
    Federal Trade Commission

    11:45 am - 12:00 pm Break

    12:00 - 1:00 pm

    Discussion 3: Broader Policy Approaches to Address Deception

    Moderator:
    Julia Ensor
    Federal Trade Commission

    1:00 - 1:30 pm

    Closing Remarks

    Ginger Jin
    Director
    Bureau of Economics, FTC

     

  • Event Speaker - File

    Event Speaker

    John C. Bernard is a professor in the department of applied economics and statistics and the department of economics at the University of Delaware. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Math-­‐Economics and Computer Science from Ithaca College and a Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University. His main research area is in consumer knowledge and opinion of, and willingness to pay (WTP) for, local, sustainable, natural and organic labeled food and some non-food products using economic experiments. He has published 43 articles, been on over 60 papers presented at professional meetings, and has received grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other sources totaling over $1 million. The USDA Southern Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program provided funding for his discussion piece. He teaches classes on food marketing, economics of technology, and research methods: surveys and economic experiments.

    Lisa Brines is the National Organic Program’s National List Manager within the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service.  Since 2010, she has managed the National List petition process, working with the public, technical experts and the National Organic Standards Board on evaluation of substances for the National List.  She also serves on the U.S. delegation for the Codex Committee on Food Labelling where she works on organic policy issues, including material evaluation and organic aquaculture.  Before joining the Agricultural Marketing Service, she evaluated materials for Organic Food Program at the Washington State Department of Agriculture.  Dr. Brines has a Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Washington, and a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry from Seattle University.  She is currently on a detail assignment in the AMS Office of the Administrator (away from NOP) through the end of the year.

    Scott Faber is vice president for government affairs for Environmental Working Group (EWG) where he leads a team working to improve food and farm policy, chemicals policy and a host of other issues important to EWG.  In addition, he is the executive director for Organic Voices, a non-profit organization that educates and empowers consumers about the benefits of organic food through its Only Organic campaign.  Prior to joining EWG, Mr. Faber was vice president for federal affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, where he spearheaded efforts to enact the Food Safety Modernization Act, which sets new food safety standards for food manufacturers and farmers.  From 2000 to 2007, he was a food and farm policy campaign manager for the Environmental Defense Fund, leading efforts to reform farm policies in the 2002 and 2008 farm bills.  From 1993 to 2000, he was a senior director for public policy for American Rivers.  A native of Massachusetts, Mr. Faber holds a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and lives in Washington, D.C.

    Gwendolyn Hustvedt received a PhD in Human Ecology with an emphasis in Textiles and Apparel in 2006 from Kansas State University. Her dissertation research focused on consumers of organic cotton and included a conjoint analysis of interest in small percentage blends.  She also conducted work with organic wool consumers about concern for animal welfare while at Kansas State.  Since joining Texas State University, where Dr. Hustvedt is an Associate Professor in the School of Family and Consumer Sciences, she has received United States Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation funding related to consumer economics and sustainability education.  She was also provided products and participant incentives by Nike, Inc. to complete a behavioral economics study on consumer willingness to pay for products receiving third party factory inspections. She has been published widely, including in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, where she serves on the Editorial Board.

    Angela Jagiello has embraced marketing and public relations roles with many of the leading companies in the organic industry.  In her current role as Associate Director of Conference and Product Development at the Organic Trade Association (OTA), she produces organic industry research and conferences, and runs a speaker’s bureau.  She holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in journalism and English from the University of Alaska, Anchorage, and earned her Master of Business Administration from the University of Colorado, Denver.  Ms. Jagiello leads a team that publishes OTA’s annual Organic Industry Survey — which reports on the size and growth of the U.S. organic industry — as well as its U.S. Families’ Organic Attitudes and Beliefs Study, which tracks changes in families’ organic shopping habits and motivations as well as their overall knowledge and opinions about the organic movement.

    Ginger Jin was appointed Director of the Bureau of Economics at the Federal Trade Commission by Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in 2015.  She supervises economic analysis at the agency for both the antitrust and the consumer protection missions and advises the Commission on economic policy matters.  Dr. Jin is a Professor of Economics at the University of Maryland and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research.  She earned her Ph.D in Economics from UCLA; a master’s degree in Economics from UCLA and the Graduate School of the People’s Bank of China; and a bachelor’s degree in Economic Management from the University of Science and Technology of China. In October 2014, she co-founded Hazel Analytics, an analytics company that promotes the use of open government data.

    Matthew Jones is an economist at the Federal Trade Commission in the division of consumer protection.  His areas of focus include survey research, the economics of deceptive advertising, and consumer protection issues in the auto industry.  He had a lead role in the study design and analysis for the FTC Staff Report, Consumer Perception of “Recycled Content” and “Organic” Claims.  He has published behavioral and experimental economics research in Economics Letters, Economic Theory, the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.  He received his Bachelor of Science degree in economics and mathematics from Saint Vincent College and his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in economics from the Ohio State University.

    James Kohm is the Associate Director for the Enforcement Division of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. In that capacity, he oversees enforcement of all consumer protection orders, the Commission’s Green Marketing program, Hispanic Initiative, Bankruptcy program, Criminal Liaison Unit, and a myriad of FTC Rules and Guides. Prior to joining the Enforcement Division, Mr. Kohm served as the Bureau’s Chief of Staff with responsibility for the Commission’s seven regional offices, and as both the Acting Associate Director and an Assistant Director in the FTC’s Division of Marketing Practices. Mr. Kohm received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and his Juris Doctor from the Georgetown University Law Center.

    Laura Koss is an Assistant Director in the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) Division of Enforcement.  In addition to her extensive work on the Green Guides, Ms. Koss has supervised and worked on a variety of FTC rules, guides, and projects, including the Jewelry Guides, the Care Labeling Rule, and Made in USA enforcement.  She also served as the Coordinator of the Commission's Hispanic Law Enforcement Initiative.  Prior to working at the FTC, Ms. Koss was an associate at Crowell & Moring in Washington, D.C.  Ms. Koss holds a Bachelor of Arts from Cornell University and a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School.

    Miles McEvoy is the Deputy Administrator of the National Organic Program, in the United States Department of Agriculture’s  Agricultural Marketing Service.  He has worked in organic agriculture for more than twenty-five years.  In 1988, he was the first organic inspector for the Washington State Department of Agriculture.  Prior to that, he spent 10 years working on farms, in wild-capture fisheries and in reforestation.  He has a Master’s in Entomology from Cornell University.  Since October 2009, he has led the National Organic Program (NOP) in protecting organic integrity from farm to market.  Under his leadership, the NOP implemented new enforcement procedures that have led to dozens of civil penalties and over half a million dollars in fines.  In addition, the NOP published the National Organic Program Handbook, which provides guidance and instructions to organic farmers, processors and certifiers on how to obtain and maintain organic certification.

    Laura MacCleery is vice president for consumer policy and mobilization at Consumer Reports, and is a seasoned legislative and regulatory campaigner for improvements to public health.  She is the author or editor of more than 75 comments to regulatory dockets and over 25 major research-based reports, and has testified in administrative hearings, the U.S. Congress, and Brussels. She spent close to a decade with the consumer-rights advocacy group Public Citizen where she was deputy director of the auto safety group and director of Congress Watch, leading eleven staff on issues from sunshine in government to safety standards for children’s toys.  More recently, she was director of regulatory affairs at Center for Science in the Public Interest, where she worked on food policy.  MacCleery graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Virginia in 1994 and earned her law degree from Stanford in 1999.

    Hampton Newsome is an attorney with the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the Federal Trade Commission. His primary duties involve energy-related consumer labeling and green advertising claims. Before coming to the FTC, Mr. Newsome worked at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission where he specialized in environmental law and nuclear materials issues. He received his undergraduate degree from Duke University and his Juris Doctor and master’s degree in planning from the University of Virginia.

    Jessica Rich is the Director of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  Over the course of her 25 years’ service at the FTC, Ms. Rich has held a number of other senior positions, including Deputy Director of the Bureau, Associate Director of the Division of Financial Practices, and Associate Director of the Division of Privacy and Identity Protection.  She has led major policy initiatives related to privacy, data security, and emerging technologies; overseen enforcement actions against leading data companies, financial institutions, retailers, and social networks; and developed significant FTC rules.  In 2011, she received the Chairman’s Award, the agency’s highest award for meritorious service.  Jessica started her career in private practice in New York City.  She is a graduate of Harvard University and New York University Law School.

    Julia Solomon Ensor is an attorney in the Enforcement Division of the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection where she works on a variety of compliance and enforcement matters, including environmental marketing and “Made in USA” matters.  Prior to joining the FTC in 2010, Ms. Ensor was an Associate at King & Spalding LLP in Washington, D.C.  Ms. Ensor holds a Bachelor of Arts from Yale University, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

    Brad Winter is an attorney in the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.  His work against deceptive practices includes serving as the FTC’s first enforcement coordinator for the National Do Not Call Registry, the CAN-SPAM Act, and an initiative against immigration fraud.  He has served as counsel to two prior Bureau directors and currently maintains the Bureau’s model orders.  He formerly litigated at an international law firm and clerked for trial and appellate judges.  He graduated from Northwestern University and the Georgetown University Law Center.

  • Request for Comments

    The FTC welcomes written comments, including further evidence of consumer perception. Interested parties may file a comment electronically.

    Alternatively, paper comments may be mailed to Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W., Suite CC-5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20580, or they may be delivered to Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 400 7th Street SW, 5th Floor, Suite 5610 (Annex B), Washington, DC 20024.  Please write “Green Guides – Organic Roundtable, Project No. P954501 ” on your comment so that it will be readily identified with this roundtable.

    The public comment period will remain open until December 1, 2016. Comments will be posted on the roundtable’s public webpage.

FTC Privacy Policy

Under the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) or other laws, we may be required to disclose to outside organizations the information you provide when you pre-register. The Commission will consider all timely and responsive public comments, whether filed in paper or electronic form, and as a matter of discretion, we make every effort to remove home contact information for individuals from the public comments before posting them on the FTC website.

The FTC Act and other laws we administer permit the collection of your pre-registration contact information and the comments you file to consider and use in this proceeding as appropriate. For additional information, including routine uses permitted by the Privacy Act, see the Commission’s comprehensive Privacy Policy.

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