Statement of Former Secretary of Agriculture Dan Glickman
I strongly support the legislative efforts by Senator Patrick Leahy and others to repeal the provision inserted in the recent omnibus appropriations bill, which requires that livestock and poultry be fed 100% organic feed to qualify for the “organic” label.
While at USDA, my team and I were responsible for implementing the Organic Standards Act of 1990, introduced by Senator Leahy and others. That law, and the ensuing regulations, ensured the integrity of the organic certification process, so that consumers, as well as farmers and ranchers, would have confidence that there was integrity in the organic label. The special interest language inserted in the appropriations bill is a dagger in the heart of that integrity, and if not repealed, could jeopardize the entire organic food industry. While this language is targeted to livestock feed only, it represents an attempt to negate the purity of the organic process as it relates to all organic foods. In addition, it jeopardizes the significant economic investments that farmers, ranchers, and the food industry have already made to participate in this rapidly growing part of American food and agriculture. It would be the height of irony if language designed to protect a single food company would have the impact of wrecking the organic potential for everyone else, particularly at a time that production agriculture needs a strong organic avenue to augment its income.
Imagine if one food processing company sought and received an exception from USDA for one of its food safety regulations, such as the prohibition against food-borne contamination caused by e-coli or salmonella, on the ground that it was too expensive. Congress would never permit this type of exception, and shouldn’t permit it in this case either.
The statement above reflects the personal view of the author only, and is not necessarily the viewpoint of the Institute of Politics organization.