While Eric may have it "right", the more important point is still that the
USDA Proposed Rule does NOT establish a standard for Organic faming,
handling, porcessing, or distribution. It establishes a watered down,
weakened, set of rules that will allow conventional farming and processing
operations to make very minimal changes in their practices and pay a fee to
get the now only legal label claiming they are an "Organic" operation. This
is totally unacceptable to the established organic community.
In addition, the entire program is an unfunded program requiring almost
all farmers and processors to pay what will become an outlandish, and way
over-priced, fee to get the label. One of the biggest problems with the law
itself is the untenably low exemption level. An annual gross sales of under
$5,000.00 is simply unrealistic. No farmer can exist with that level of
income; certainly no organic farmer. So even the poorest of the poor,
smallest of the small, farmers will be required to pay for certification at
the federal level. they aer laready paying for state certification in most
cases and that will not change. Many are also paying a second certifier now
and THAT will not change. All that will happen is they will ahve to pay for
additional federal certification to get a label which actually means nothing.
There aer already a number of European countries that are looking at rthe
new standard in disgust. Some are threatening to not permit US certified
organic materials to be sold inside their borders because of the lack of
standards and the proposed allowance of not only sewage sludge, irradiation,
and pesticides/drugs, but the severe lowering of requirements across the board.
The OFPA needs a bit of work. It should be ammended to correct several
serious flaws. But any law is only as good as the government agency or
agencies empowered to enforce it. And the manner in which USDA wrote the
proposed rules shows a total disregard for the provisions of the exisiting act.
The USDA needs to go back to the drawing board and start over. One very
good place to start is with the National List. Get out of the business of
writing that list and put it back in the hands of those it was instrusted
with by the law. They need also to appoint people to appropriate positions
who hacve actual experience in organic farming and handling of organic
products; not a bunch of chemical farmers and former employees of chemical
companies. The Secretary then needs to instrcut eveyone at USDA to get back
to work and comply with the law to formulate a set of rules that comply with
the law and have meaning; that are in fact a set of STANDARDS for organic
farming, processing, handling, and distribution.
Eric is correct in wanting the rules to comply with the law. He falls
short in not advocating ammendments to the law to correct the current
--Dan in Sunny Puerto Rico--
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