GREENFIELD, Mass. (Feb. 26, 2003): The Organic Trade Association today urged Congress to move ahead on legislation introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA) to repeal Section 771 of the 2003 Appropriations Act.
“Consumers want integrity behind the organic label. Section 771 is an insult to organic producers and to consumers around the country, and sets an unacceptable precedent. It is a mistake that Congress can now easily fix,” said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association representing the organic industry throughout North America.
Preventing funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s enforcement of organic livestock requirements if organic feed costs twice or more as much as conventional feed, Section 771 would allow producers to label their meat, poultry and dairy products “organic” even if they do not meet the strict criteria set forth by USDA for feeding 100 percent organic feed. This is a serious issue because organic livestock provides meat, milk, eggs, cheese, wool, and more, forming the basis of hundreds of products.
“The Organic Trade Association and organic producers throughout the country are urging that this section be repealed because it undermines their hard work to adhere to the requirements of the National Organic Program,” said DiMatteo. She added, “Prompting this has been one company’s reluctance to pay the price for organic feed. Our information shows that there is enough organic feed available to feed the organic livestock now being raised.”
Section 771 is particularly upsetting because many producers have already made the commitment to organic production and are following the rules.
“This shortsighted approach of giving in to one player unwilling to follow by the rules jeopardizes the entire industry for one company’s short-term gain. It has the potential to undermine what the organic industry has worked hard to cultivate over the past 25 to 30 years: consumer assurance in organic products. The main reason to seek national organic standards in the first place was to make sure that products labeled as organic in the marketplace truly were produced through stringent measures that could be tracked,” DiMatteo said.
“OTA applauds those within Congress who have already signed on as co-sponsors of the bill and urges others who have not yet shown their support to do so. Congress needs to realize consumers want issues to be handled democratically, and not through closed-door, back-room deals that undercut the public trust.”
February 26, 2003
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