The United States Department of Agriculture has an unusual method for regulating organic food. For example, although the USDA's National Organic Program sets organic standards through administrative rulemaking, it relies on independent "accredited certifying agents" to monitor organic farms and food processors for standards compliance. This page summarizes my peer-reviewed research on organic food regulation; for lessons that I've drawn from this research, see my opinion piece in The Hill, The Case for USDA Organic, and Scholar Strategy Network brief, How the United States Regulates Organic Foods Effectively in a System Where Certifiers Compete. A (near) comprehensive synthesis is the focus of my book, Regulation by Proxy: How the USDA Relies on Public Nonprofit, and For-Profit Intermediaries to Oversee Organic Food in the U.S., published by Lexington.


Much of this research was conducted through a multi-year, multi-institution research project led by Christopher M. Weible (University of Colorado Denver) and Saba N. Siddiki (now at Syracuse University). The research team also included Xavier Basurto (Duke University), John Brett and Alison Kent (University of Colorado Denver), and Sara Millier Chonaiew. The project was funded by the National Science Foundation (grant no. 1124541).