Sunday, December 14, 2008

USDA trying to shut down family-owned organic milk farms?

Clover organic milk carton
Do you eat organic? If you do, very likely you've made a conscious choice to pay a little more for foods stamped "USDA Organic."

Cutaway--USDA Organic seal on milk cartonCongress has charged the US Department of Agriculture with assuring we get what we pay for when we see this seal. You may know that they don't always.

The last eight years have seen USDA interpretations that many feel belie the term organic. Get the lowdown on that, and keep informed on all things organic, through the Organic Consumers Association (OCA).

For now, there's a really important USDA proposed rule that could do a whole lot more harm than good where organic milk is concerned. This rule is about to go into effect unless enough of us convince the Feds to give us a little more time to read it and respond. Here's the skinny.

What: USDA proposed rule supposed to "clamp down on giant factory dairy farms ... that violate the spirit and letter of federal organic law by primarily confining their cattle to feedlots," according to organics watchdog The Cornucopia Institute.

Issue: The proposed rule might clamp down on giant factory farms, depending on how allowed exceptions are interpreted, but it is likely it will also close most family-owned operations as well, according to Cornucopia. Additionally, the USDA gave all of us only sixty days to read, review and comment on the proposed rule before making it final. Day sixty is December 23, just nine days from today.

Action Step: Buy us all more time to read and understand this 26-page document of fine-print government doublespeak--Sign the petition requesting 30 days additional review time.

Believe me, we need it. I tried to read the document this evening and got only so far as page seven before my eyes crossed. I'm still not sure what I was reading. On first glance, it seems the government is doing what it says it intends: closing loopholes so mega-farms can't call milk organic that comes from conventional cattle hackle-deep in their own muck and filth in feedlots. Where's the pasture? (Don't be fooled by the bucolic rolling hills on the milk carton.)

On second glance, try to wrap your eyes and brain around all the clauses, references to exceptions in section this and paragraph that of non-linked external documents, and you begin to think you need an attorney to tell you what they really mean by it all.

The OCA and Cornucopia think we all need time to look this thing over. Do a very Ordinary thing just now: read the petition and if you think it has merit, sign it.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, great blog. Our blog covers all things upcoming & organic with food in the Obama admin. Today we have a post about a candidate for Under Secretary for Food Safety who skews very organic–Bill Marler.


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