PCC engages on policy proposals

Sound Consumer July 2017

Animal welfare rules?

PCC has engaged on several recent policy proposals affecting ethically sourced, organic foods.

We submitted formal comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on its action delaying implementation of the new organic livestock and poultry production rules. As feared, the administration delayed the new rules for animal welfare and opened a 30-day comment period, asking for comments on what action the USDA should take:

  • Let the rule become effective on November 14.
  • Delay the effective date further, beyond November 14.
  • Suspend the rule indefinitely. During the suspension, the USDA could consider whether to implement, modify or withdraw the final rule.
  • Withdraw the rule so that the USDA would not pursue implementation.

PCC is urging implementation in November, as soon as possible, under the terms developed through the legally prescribed protocols of the National Organic Standards Board and National Organic Program staff.

The rules contain many important provisions for animal welfare, especially organic poultry, although there still are opportunities for future improvements.

We urge immediate implementation to improve living conditions for organic livestock at all certified operations across the country.

Organic checkoff?

PCC also submitted comments to the USDA on a proposed organic checkoff program. So-called “checkoff” programs include the “Got Milk?”, “Beef: it’s what’s for dinner,” and “Pork: the other white meat” campaigns. Opponents say an organic checkoff program would mean farmers and producers would be required to pay a fee to support it, with little or no voice in how the funds are used. They say checkoff programs have not increased market share or income for farmers.

We reported that we were unable to find convincing evidence that the USDA’s checkoff model could deliver the desired results of increasing market share of U.S. organics.

PCC recommended apportioning a larger share of funds to research needed by organic farmers, and shrinking the amount for administration and marketing.

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Letters to the editor, July 2017

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