GREENFIELD, Mass., April 12 -- The organic industry and consumers choosing organic products can celebrate now that Congress has repealed a rider contained in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill that weakened organic livestock feeding requirements.
"Congress has done the right thing to repeal Section 771. The organic industry and consumers can breathe a sigh of relief and rejoice that this issue has been put to bed in a timely fashion. It truly was a bad egg, but legislators now have disposed of it," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association, the business association for the North American organic industry.
She added, "We truly hope legislators have learned that we will not stand by when anyone tries to undermine organic standards by resorting to backroom deals."
The Supplemental Appropriations Bill approved today by both the House of Representatives and Senate included an amendment repealing the offending language that, in effect, allowed organic livestock producers to feed their animals less than 100 percent organic feed and still market the resulting meat, dairy and poultry products as organic.
The quick action to repeal Section 771 came as a result of a major push by key senators and representatives supportive of organic agriculture and practices, as well as the Organic Trade Association, its members, associated groups, and consumers.
"Thanks particularly to Senators Patrick Leahy and Olympia Snowe and Representatives Sam Farr and Ron Kind in the House for sponsoring the repeal bills, 71 Senators and 105 Representatives signed on as co-sponsors of bills to repeal Section 771. Getting this response took a monumental effort by our members, affiliated associations and groups, and consumers who barraged their legislators and contacted the media with the message that Section 771 was a major mistake that had to be corrected immediately," said DiMatteo.
She added, "This is a moment to celebrate. However, it proves once again that we must remain vigilant to make sure consumers get what they want: that products labeled as organic in the marketplace truly meet stringent standards that are certified."
Representing the $11 billion organic industry in North America, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) is a membership-based business association. Its 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. Learn more at the OTA website: www.ota.com or its consumer website: www.theorganicreport.org.