THE USDA IS AT IT AGAIN! URGENT ACTION NEEDED TO KEEP FACTORY FARMING OUT OF ORGANIC FOOD PRODUCTION AND ENSURE CONSUMER PROTECTION AGAINST ORGANIC FRAUD!
Early last year, an outraged public flooded the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) with nearly 280,000 comments opposing the agency's proposal to allow factory farming, sewage sludge, genetic engineering, and irradiation in organic food production. Despite this outpouring of public outrage, the USDA is again thinking of diluting organic standards. We need your input now on three critical issues:
* The USDA is still considering loopholes that would allow for continuous indoor confinement in organic animal production;
* The USDA is considering the use of animal medications, including antibiotics, in organic production; and
* The USDA is considering eliminating the ability of organic certifiers to prevent the sale of mishandled or fraudulent organic products.
Your help is urgently needed. The USDA has opened these three questions for public comment. But we only have until December 14, 1998, to respond. We need to send a clear message to the USDA:
(1) ORGANIC STANDARDS MUST MANDATE ACCESS TO THE OUTDOORS AND PASTURE FOR ALL ANIMALS;
(2) ORGANIC STANDARDS MUST BAN THE USE OF ANTIBIOTICS AND THE MISUSE OF OTHER ANIMAL MEDICATIONS IN ORGANIC PRODUCTION;
(3) ORGANIC STANDARDS MUST ALLOW CERTIFIERS (ORGANIZATIONS THAT VERIFY ORGANIC STANDARDS ARE BEING FOLLOWED) TO MAINTAIN THEIR CURRENT RIGHT TO IMMEDIATELY PREVENT THE SALE OF FRAUDULENT OR MISHANDLED ORGANIC PRODUCTS.
It is important that you again comment and make it very clear that the USDA cannot ignore the 280,000 public comments it received early this year. Here's how to make your voice heard. Just respond to the questions below and follow the instructions for sending or e-mailing your comments.
Your Name: _________________________________________
City: ____________________________ State: ___ Zip Code: ________
Phone: (H) _____________________ (W) _________________________
USDA ISSUE #1. Livestock Confinement in Organic Production Systems.
The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB--the citizens' board given legal authority to provide the Secretary of Agriculture with recommendations) has made recommendations that livestock must have access to the outdoors. The USDA is considering policies that would allow loopholes whereby a producer could avoid providing animals with access to the outdoors. Furthermore, the USDA may not require "access to the outdoors" to include access to pasture. Under this scenario, dairy cows on dirt feedlots could be considered under "organic milk production"! Should organic livestock have access to the outdoors, including pasture? What is your official comment to the USDA on this issue? _____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________
USDA ISSUE #2. The Use of Antibiotics and Parasiticides in Organic Livestock Production.
The NOSB has made explicit recommendations to the USDA concerning the use of animal medications, including a ban on the use of antibiotics, in organic production. Should organic livestock standards be based on the NOSB recommendations, which prevent loopholes allowing for the misuse of animal medications? What is your official comment to the USDA on this issue? ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________
USDA ISSUE #3. Termination of Certification By Private Certifiers.
Please send your comments to USDA Docket #TM-98-00-7. The comment period ends December 14, 1998, so please contact the USDA immediately:
WARNING! If you visit the USDA's National Organic Program web site or obtain printed copies of the Federal Register notice, please be aware that the issue papers posted there contain inaccurate information about the current NOSB recommendations, as well as misleading information about the legal rights of private certification agencies to suspend or terminate certification. DO NOT rely on the information in these papers to frame your comments!
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