Charles M. Benbrook and Frederick Kirschenmann
The time is very late to draw up further criteria for developing the Final
Organic Rule as authorized under OFPA. Congress passed the Act and it is time
to implement the Act. There is only one criterion left the Act itself. I
have challenged other strong willed individuals to critique the Proposed Rule
in light of the language of the Act and the intent of the Act as reflected in
the Joint Conferee Report and the Senate Report. And I now so challenge you
Fred and Charles. If a Proposed Rule is inconsistent with the Act, declare
it, otherwise why should anyone or I address your opinions and
"interpretations" that are not based on the language and intent.
To my thinking, it is misleading the discussion to bring new (although
respectfully I say, not new to the proponents) intellectual criteria into
public discussion of the Proposed Rules. You are making the Proposed Rule
issues very complex. OFPA makes them simple. There is only a single
criterion to consider in evaluating the Proposed Rule, "consistency with the
Statute." If USDA does not use this criterion, my assessment is USDA will
become involved in extended litigation to the detriment of the organic
farmers, handlers and customers.
I actually agree and am in harmony with many of your Organic Principles and
Administrative Principles, but it is time for USDA/NOP to use the Organic
Foods Production Act, not newly created criteria to judge the Proposed Rule
and offer public comment.
Quoting your statement:
"USDA's ability and willingness to accept recommended changes in the rule will
be a function of three things---unanimity, consistency with the
Statute and the justifications offered for changes in light of the general
goals of OFPA and "good government."
Regarding your last Administrative Principle:
"4. Equitable Fee Structure Principle. In all instances those who benefit
should pay. In general, the industry should continue to cover the costs of
certification. Provisions in the rule should strive to keep costs to a
minimum while providing adequate resources to insure credible certification.
Necessary costs imposed on growers, processors, the trade or taxpayers should,
as a basic goal, be shared equitably and in relation to the benefits received
from the costs imposed. USDA, working with public funds, should bear the
administrative costs of the accreditation process, and on an ongoing basis,
should collect and share data, and carry out and commission independent
analyses helpful in documenting the magnitude of direct and indirect costs and
benefits associated with OFPA implementation."
This statement is inconsistent with OFPA: "USDA, working with public funds,
should bear the administrative costs of the accreditation process." The
National Organic Program is empowered by OFPA to collect fees from all
participants, that includes accredited certifiers who in turn charge
applicants for organic farm and handling operation certification.
On a secondary issue, determination of equivalency of imports or for that
matter in answering foreign countries request for information on equivalency
of US exports should certainly not be born by certified organic farmers and
handling operations producing for the domestic US market.
As a last statement, the only interest group that really matters is the
consumer. No more than farmers are ignorant, are consumers ignorant.
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe sanet-mg".
To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command