Policy Updates Animal welfare, energy and organics, and the Farm Bill

This article was originally published in October 2018

Defending animal welfare

The federal court for the Northern District of California is allowing a legal challenge to proceed against the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The Center for Food Safety and the National Organic Coalition (NOC) are suing USDA for refusing to adopt the organic animal welfare rule. PCC is a declarant in this lawsuit. The court rejected USDA’s arguments that plaintiffs do not have legal standing to challenge its decision upholding that withdrawing the organic animal welfare rule “undermines the organic label” for consumers.

Energy and organics

PCC is joining our NOC allies to request that the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) address impacts of fracking on organics. The construction of oil and gas rights of way and the hydraulic fracking process involve use of substances prohibited in organic systems. In some regions, the wastewater from fracking is used to irrigate food crops. Data shows evidence of harm to livestock and people living nearby. Some farmers who have signed energy infrastructure easements, for instance in Ohio, have lost organic certification.

The open letter signed by PCC asks that NOSB provide clarity on how concerns related to energy infrastructure will be addressed and enforced. PCC continues to promote strong standards to help protect organic farmers and preserve the integrity of organic food. To view the NOSB letter visit pccmarkets.com/r/4918.

Advocating a better Farm Bill

The Farm Bill is a comprehensive piece of legislation that affects food across the supply chain from producers to consumers — including farmer livelihoods, the processes promoting and regulating food production, and anti-hunger programs. The Farm Bill is reauthorized roughly every five years and the latest reauthorization is currently under debate in Washington D.C. There are some good provisions in the draft versions, but also some that we strongly oppose.

PCC is advocating for strong organic support in the next authorization of the Farm Bill. Together with our National Organic Coalition allies, we advocated permanent baseline funding for organic research and the certification cost-share program, which was in danger in the draft bills.

To view the NOSB letter visit pccmarkets.com/r/4918.

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