AUSTIN, TX (September 25, 2009) — Whole Foods Market® (NASDAQ: WFMI), a leader in natural and organic foods, today announced that Joe Dickson, the company’s Food, Organic and Environmental Quality Standards Coordinator, has been appointed by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to serve as one of five new board members on the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Organic Standards Board.
The board is authorized by the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990 and advises the Secretary of Agriculture and the USDA on organic agriculture, and makes recommendations regarding allowed and prohibited substances in organic operations. The Board works closely with the National Organic Program, the division of the USDA responsible for regulating organic production in the U.S.
“This is a profoundly exciting moment to be joining the National Organic Standards Board, for so many reasons,” said Dickson. “The industry is growing, the National Organic Program is under new leadership, and the current administration has already shown unprecedented support for organic. I’m honored to serve the organic community by joining this talented and distinguished group of leaders.”
The National Organic Standards Board is a stakeholder advisory board which represents the full spectrum of the organic community, including four producers, two handlers, one retailer, three environmentalists, three consumers, one scientist and one certifying agent. The National Organic Program is responsible for regulating the fastest growing segment of U.S. agriculture, the organic industry. U.S. sales of organic foods have grown from $1 billion in 1990, when the Organic Foods Production Act established this program, to a projected $23.6 billion in 2009. Congress increased its funding to $2.6 million in FY08 and to $3.2 million in FY09.
“Having long been committed to maintaining the integrity of the organic label, Joe is a natural fit for this appointment,” said Margaret Wittenberg, global vice president of quality standards for Whole Foods Market. “He has been an outstanding asset at Whole Foods Market and has likewise earned respect throughout the organic industry. We are pleased that to have him serve this important role.”
At Whole Foods Market, Dickson has worked closely with the National Organic Standards Board, the National Organic Program and the industry to represent the company and its customers in preserving a strong meaning for the organic label. His work has focused on helping Whole Foods Market shoppers and Team Members understand organic production and on protecting the integrity of organic products from “farm to shopping cart” within the company’s supply chain. Over the last five years, he has attended most National Organic Standards Board meetings as a commenter and audience member, carefully following and engaging in the Board’s work on numerous technical and regulatory issues.
“Retailers are the last link in the organic supply chain between the industry and customers and we have an immense responsibility to market, merchandise and communicate about organic agriculture with integrity and conviction,” Dickson said.
Dickson will serve a five-year term as the sole retail representative on the board starting January 24, 2010, through January 24, 2015.