GREENFIELD, Mass., Feb. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The Organic Trade Association today applauded Secretary of Agriculture Ann M. Veneman for voicing her strong support to uphold national organic standards.
"The organic industry is pleased that Secretary Veneman has expressed the administration's support for retaining strong organic standards as reflected in the National Organic Program regulation," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association representing the organic industry throughout North America. She added, "It took years of hard work both on the part of the organic community and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop these strict standards, and it is gratifying to have the Secretary of Agriculture recognize the value of that."
Voicing concern that language inserted into the Omnibus Appropriations Bill could weaken the National Organic Program, Veneman said she supports bi- partisan efforts to ensure USDA standards remain in place. Her comments came as Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA) announced legislation to repeal Section 771 that, if allowed to stand, could prevent USDA from enforcing the requirement that organic livestock be fed 100 percent organic feed.
The Organic Trade Association and others within the industry have warned that such a provision undermines the meaning of the organic label on products. Because organic livestock provides meat, milk, eggs, cheese, wool, and more, forming the basis of hundreds of products, Section 771 could have widespread repercussions to the organic industry, and for consumers who want organic products to meet stringent standards.
"We thank Secretary Veneman for taking this stand, and urge legislators to move forward on the Leahy-Snowe Organic Restoration Act (S. 457) in the Senate and Rep. Sam Farr's similar bill for consideration by the House," said DiMatteo.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is a membership-based business association whose mission is to encourage global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade. OTA's approximately 1,200 members include growers, shippers, retailers, processors, certifiers, farmer associations, brokers, consultants and others. For further info, visit OTA's website at www.ota.com.