GREENFIELD, Mass. (Feb. 13, 2003)—Last-minute back room deals by interests wishing to circumvent national organic standards have resulted in language hidden in the congressional appropriations bill that could highjack the U.S. enforcement of organic livestock provisions.
As worded, Section 771 of the Fiscal Year 2003 Consolidated Budget Bill would not allow any funds to be used to enforce the 100 percent organic feed requirement for certified organic livestock operations unless a report prepared by the Secretary of Agriculture confirms organically produced feed is commercially available at no more than twice the cost of conventionally produced feed to meet current market demand.
“The Organic Trade Association is outraged to see such underhanded methods used by those unwilling to play by the rules. This is an example of someone doing an end-run to manipulate the government, with disregard for the public’s wishes,” said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association. DiMatteo noted that earlier unsuccessful efforts by a Georgia poultry operation last year had attempted to get representatives in Congress and USDA to create an exemption from the 100 percent organic feed requirement.
The 2002 Farm Bill Conference Report, however, had directed the Secretary of Agriculture to undertake a study to assess the availability of organically produced feed for the organic production of livestock and poultry. That report is expected to be released later this month, DiMatteo noted. Based on information from OTA member companies, the report is expected to show organic feed is commercially available in adequate quantities and at prices that fall below the limit set in the language intended to subvert the requirements.
“Inserting this language in the appropriations bill was an underhanded attempt to circumvent consumer expectations and the integrity of the organic industry. This is a slap in the face to the many certified organic farmers who are legitimately following the standards, and an attempt to undermine their hard work to provide consumers, both domestically and abroad, with products meeting the requirements the Organic Foods Production Act,” DiMatteo said.
February 13, 2003
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