Tell Congress to Vote Against the Farm Bill if It Weakens Organic Standards

Organic standards are under attack in the Farm Bill, H.R. 2, passed by the Agriculture Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives and in language emerging in the Senate Agriculture Committee. This adds to the attacks on which we have previously taken action.

>>Tell Congress to Vote Against the Farm Bill if It Weakens Organic Standards

The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) gives the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) broad authority and responsibility to ensure organic integrity. The Farm Bill contains provisions that:

  • Will permit the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sidestep the NOSB in allowing post-harvest handling substances (sanitizers) to be used in organic production;
  • Change the classification of types of people who may be appointed to the NOSB by adding employees of farmers, handlers, and retailers; and
  • Force consideration of the judgment of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when those agencies find a material to meet their own (less stringent) criteria for use.

These provisions are a direct attack on the strength of organic standards. When OFPA was passed and placed under USDA authority, Congress established a board composed of members of the organic community –farmers, handlers/processors, retailers, environmentalists, public interest groups, scientists, and certifiers— to provide direction to USDA and maintain the integrity of the organic label. Organic production arose out of a concern about hazardous chemical-intensive practices and unprotective laws and regulations; hence, OFPA and standards recommended by the NOSB and adopted by USDA for organic production are more stringent than standards adopted by FDA and EPA. Now that organic production has become a nearly $50 billion dollar enterprise, politicians are under pressure from large producers that would like to get a share of the organic premium without meeting current standards. We must stop this attack and protect organic as a real choice for health and environmental protection.

These Farm Bill provisions will give USDA greater direct and indirect power to change the materials allowed in organic production to favor producers who do not meet all the criteria traditionally considered to be required of organic certified operations –such as hydroponics, poultry houses without real access to the outdoors, and dairy operations without meaningful pasture. Organic means something important. Let’s keep it that way!

>>Tell Congress to Vote Against the Farm Bill if It Weakens Organic Standards

See two other problem amendments in the Farm Bill: preemption of local regulation of pesticides, and elimination of EPA’s legally mandated scientific consultations on pesticides with the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Interior Department’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)

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