First, I think it's important for consumers to know that when they buy
something that is certified organic, it means the same thing no matter
which agency did the certification. That's why we got our farm certified
in the first place; it doesn't really help our marketing, but I think it's
important for consumers to know what they are getting. For example, some
organizations have much stricter feed requirements for dairy cows than
others. So how are consumers to know if their certified organic milk comes
from cows that were fed organic feed or not? I think this is the kind of
thing that national standards will solve.
Second, from the perspective of a small certifying organization: since
different organizations have different requirements, reciprocity is
difficult, especially for processors. If you want to make a product that
contains items that are certified by more than one organization, it can
become really tricky. Also, our ability to do the kind of product review
we'd like to do is limited by human and financial resources; if we
(certifiers) all pooled our resources we'd be in better shape in many ways.
This isn't to say that I think national standards will solve all of these
problems. Their effectiveness will depend a lot on how much input they
seek from organizations that are currently doing certification, how willing
the NOSB is willing to listen to farmers' needs, and, as Sal points out,
who is going to pay for it.