USDA takes first steps to rebuild dialog with the organic industry - Organic Trade Association
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USDA takes first steps to rebuild dialog with the organic industry









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CONTACT:  Holly Givens, 413-774-7511, Ext. 18
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USDA takes first steps to rebuild dialog with the organic industry


Greenfield, MA (June 10, 2004) - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has taken a first step to rebuild dialog with the organic industry by meeting with industry representatives, thus laying the groundwork for future decisions concerning policy-making involving both the National Organic Program (NOP) and National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), the Organic Trade Association (OTA) announced today.


A.J. Yates and Ken Clayton of USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service and NOP officials met with the NOSB Policy Development Committee, OTA's Executive Director Katherine DiMatteo and other organic community representatives Wednesday, June 9, to discuss strategies for improving dialog and policy-making between NOP and its advisory NOSB.


"It was a very basic first step, but one that we hope will prove fruitful in building trust and constructive action on future policies for the organic industry," according to Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of OTA, the business group representing the organic industry in North America. In April and May, OTA and others within the organic community had decried directive and guidance statements issued by NOP without industry or public input. As a result of that outcry, Secretary Ann M. Veneman had directed AMS and NOP to work with the industry and NOSB in the future.


Also appearing briefly at the meeting held in Washington, Secretary Veneman offered reassurances that her agency wanted national organic standards to succeed, and the organic industry to prosper.

Although welcoming the opening of dialog on the part of AMS and NOP, DiMatteo, however, said the industry will remain vigilant and proactive in the discussions.


"We cannot sit back and think that creating a better public-private partnership will be quick and easy," said DiMatteo, adding, "We have been faced over and over with obstacles over the past two years. That will not change overnight. We must all stay engaged to make sure that the right decisions are made for the good of organic farmers and producers and the good of consumers who trust in the organic label."

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the business association representing the organic agriculture industry in North America. Its more than 1,450 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others.


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June 10, 2004

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