GREENFIELD, Mass. (April 16, 2003)— “President Bush’s repeal today of Section 771 is a triumph for the organic community and verifies the strength of the consumer mandate to protect the organic standards,” said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, the business organization for the $11 billion organic industry in North America.
“The organic community united immediately in a nationwide grassroots effort to defend the integrity of the organic standards. Every elected official was contacted. Every medium was tapped,” said DiMatteo. “Just as we rallied successfully to defend ‘organic’ in 1998, we rallied successfully again in 2003. It’s time legislators realize that the organic community will not allow the organic standards to be undermined.”
The bill signed into law today by President Bush includes an amendment repealing the offending language that, in effect, allowed organic livestock producers to feed their animals less than 100 percent organic feed and still market the resulting meat, dairy and poultry products as organic.
Organic community efforts to repeal the rider, Section 771 of the Omnibus Appropriations Bill, included nationwide e-mail and phone campaigns to elected officials in Congress, letters to the editors of local newspapers, a national ad in The New York Times, visits with legislative leaders in Washington, D.C., newspaper, magazine, TV and radio articles, and web and store-based consumer education.
DiMatteo praised Congress for its rapid response to requests to repeal the rider. “We especially appreciate Senators Patrick Leahy and Olympia Snowe and Representatives Sam Farr and Ron Kind in the House for sponsoring the repeal bills. Seventy-one Senators and 105 Representatives signed on as co-sponsors of bills to repeal Section 771. Getting this response took a monumental effort by our members, affiliated associations and groups, and consumers who barraged their legislators and contacted the media with the message that Section 771 was a major mistake that had to be corrected immediately,” said DiMatteo.
It is a standard operating procedure in the United States to provide 100% organic feed for organic livestock, and organic feed is readily available. The organic rule already includes emergency feed provisions should there be a feed shortage, and that is clearly not the case at this time.
April 16, 2003
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