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Poultry producer attempts to undermine organic standards, says OTA

(June 6, 2002 – CropChoice news) – The following is from an Organic Trade Association press release.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) today decried closed door efforts by a large poultry operation headquartered in Georgia to undermine provisions in the national organic standards that require 100 percent organic feed for livestock operations.

"In 1997, over 275,000 consumers told the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that they wanted strict requirements for organic production and processing, including 100 percent organic feed for livestock. USDA responded to that demand, but is now being lobbied to break consumers’ trust," said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director.

Efforts by the poultry operation have focused on lobbying its representatives in Congress and USDA to create an exemption from the 100 percent organic feed requirement.

"The case being made in these back room dealings is that there isn’t enough organic feed for this company to maintain its size," DiMatteo said. "However, OTA members have reported there is adequate feed available."

USDA’s Marketing and Regulatory staff, as well as its National Organic Program staff, have stood behind the agency’s regulation, published in December 2000 and based on the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, but are facing increased pressure from those in power on Capitol Hill for possible emergency rulemaking to relax the requirements.

"OTA feels strongly that it is more important to meet the requirements of national organic standards to safeguard the integrity of organic than have the market flooded by products that fall short of what consumers want. And what consumers want is chickens raised organically to be fed 100 percent organic feed," DiMatteo said.

Representing the 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. For further information, visit the OTA website at www.ota.com or its new consumer website at www.theorganicreport.org.