WASHINGTON, D.C. (Oct. 12, 2001)—Over 75 members of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) met here with their congressional representatives yesterday during OTA’s Congressional Education Day activities to discuss legislative issues of vital importance to the organic community.
"During more than 100 meetings with legislators, OTA members put important issues facing organic agriculture in front of key legislators and their staffs," said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director. "Although members reported legislators better understand the issues facing organic farms and businesses, it is clear that OTA needs to keep up the pressure to secure the legislation that members seek."
Highlights of the day included visits from Senator Thad Cochran (R-Mississippi), Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont), and Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), briefings from the National Organic Program and the Foreign Agriculture Service, meetings with the Canadian Consulate, discussion with the U.S. Trade Representative’s office, meetings with influential legislators in the House and Senate agriculture committees, and an early evening reception attended by approximately 250 OTA members, legislators, and legislative staff.
Among the issues discussed during visits to congressional offices were industry requests for fair appropriations for organic production, and relief from existing federal marketing orders.
"Now that the United States has national organic standards, there are many ways to strengthen funding for organic production," said DiMatteo.
Discussing possible farm program reform, OTA members voiced their support for government programs to fund research on organic production and the market for organic products. They also sought crop insurance for organic farmers, incentive payments for conservation practices, technical assistance for farms making the transition to organic, and cost-sharing for certification expenses.
In addition, OTA members sought congressional support for legislation requiring labeling for products made with genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and holding companies that produce GMOs liable for genetic contamination.
October 12, 2001
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