Rumor Update of the Week-HR 875

The following note is typical of the calls and e-mails Organic Consumers Association has been receiving this week:famer-jail

“Do you know anything about HR 875, a ‘food safety’ bill that was written by Monsanto, Cargill and ADM? I’ve heard a few individual activists scream about this as the death of farmers markets, CSAs and local organic food, yet have seen no alerts from any of the reliable groups, including OCA. Any idea what’s up with this?”

For the record, Organic Consumers Association does have an alert out on HR875. As OCA points out in our Action Alert, we cannot support a “food Safety” bill unless it provides protection or exemptions for organic and farm-to-consumer producers and cracks down on the real corporate criminals who are tampering with and polluting our nation’s food supply— such as Monsanto.

Having said that, OCA supports aspects of HR875 that call for mandatory recalls of tainted food, increased scrutiny of large slaughterhouses and food manufacturers, and hefty fines against companies that send poisonous food to market. The now discredited ultra-libertarian notion that companies or the “market” will regulate themselves is not only ludicrous, but dangerous, whether we are talking about the banking system or the food and farming sector.

Of course, Monsanto and large corporate agribusiness are out to destroy traditional farming. Unfortunately, while many people have been distracted by HR 875, the biotech companies have been hard at work pushing their agenda: Monsanto’s gene-altered (so-called) drought-resistant corn, Epitopix’s E. coli vaccine, and the ban on rBGH-free labeling that Monsanto’s successor Eli Lilly is trying to push through the Kansas legislature. We need to keep working together to work towards positive alternatives, such as organic agriculture and the green economy.

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Alert of the Week: Proposed USDA Rule Could Harm Organic Farmers

The OCA alerted consumers on October 29th about a proposed rule that represents the broadest rewrite of federal organic regulations in history. OCA welcomes the new proposed rules in terms of closing loopholes relating to pasture and forage requirements that had previously allowed dairy companies like Aurora and Horizon to source their milk from giant industrial feedlots. Unfortunately, the new proposed rules also include a number of new cumbersome regulations that would cause tremendous hardship, or even put the majority of organic livestock farmers out of business. OCA also objects to the part of the proposed regulations that would allow non-organic cattle to be brought onto a certified organic dairy farm and then be considered organic. The OCA has joined together with the Cornucopia Institute and a number of the nation’s leading organic certifiers to encourage the USDA to revise its proposed rule to crack down on factory farm abuses, and uphold organic integrity, without making it impossible for existing organic farms to operate and thrive.

Please sign your name to our petition here

Organic Bytes –

Vilksack’s nomination [for Agriculture Secretary] has now been withdrawn. Although Vilsack told the Des Moines Register he didn’t want to comment on why he had been sacked, sources at the Obama transition headquarters reported “a flood of calls and emails” from organic consumers opposing Vilsack’s nomination.