Current Action Alerts

Close the Loophole Allowing Conventional Cows on Organic Farms

Tuesday, June 9th, 2015

Comment by July  27

Origin of Livestock – Proposed Rule

Source: USDA

The new origin of livestock rule released by the USDA has tightened the rules that govern how conventionally raised livestock can be brought into organic production system, but a major loophole remains. This loophole could allow significant abuses to continue to the detriment of organic family farmers, who follow the spirit and letter of the law, and their loyal organic customers seeking authentic organic food.

Conventional farmers, converting to organic farming, are allowed a one-time transition of their existing herd to organic production. After that point all animals brought into a herd are supposed to be raised organically from the last third of gestation (meaning, prior to birth). However, some industrial scale organic dairies (“factory farms”) have been flaunting this rule for years by continuously purchasing conventional heifers that have been transitioned to organic.

Factory farms, milking thousands of cows each, have been regularly bringing in conventional cattle to both grow their operations and replace animals burned out by their high production management approach. Read Full Article »

Nominations Open for Five Vacancies on the National Organic Standards Board

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Application Deadline is June 17

500px-USDA_organic_seal_svg - wikicommonsTwo positions for organic farmers are among the five vacancies the USDA is seeking to fill on the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).  Appointees will serve a five-year term beginning in January 2016.  Vacancies for the 15-mem­ber organic advisory board must represent a particular constituency as identified by Congress, and the current openings are for:

  • Two (2) organic farmers/ producers,
  • Two (2) public or consumer interest group representatives, and
  • One (1) USDA accredited certifying agent.

The NOSB is responsible for determining allowed and prohibited substances/inputs used in organic agricultural production and food, as well as advising the USDA Secretary on organic regulations and policy.

If you are interested in applying for one of the vacancies, click here for detailed instructions.  Individuals can nominate themselves for one of the appropriate slots.  Nominations must be postmarked by June 17. Read Full Article »

Food Safety Petition and Action Alert

Friday, December 5th, 2014

[This alert is over–comment period now closed]

Food Safety Modernization Act: New Draft Rules
Comments Due on December 15 to FDA

FDA3Please take action by reading the full Action Alert available on the Cornucopia website: http://www.cornucopia.org/food-safety/

Although improved over the first draft the FDA’s proposed food safety rules are still onerous enough that they could jeopardize the existence of many of our safest, local organic farms.

Tell the FDA that small farms are not food processing “facilities” necessitating expensive oversight and testing. (It could cost a family farm over $12,000 a year to comply!). Irrigation water should not have to meet the same safety standards as a community swimming pool. And it should be clear that older farmers, without Internet access, or the Amish, can submit reports on paper rather than the web.

At a minimum, please join farmers and their urban-allies by signing on to the letter below. Additionally, we especially encourage fresh market vegetable farmers to also, very carefully, read the full action alert and submit your individual comments, based on your own farming experience, to the FDA. Your livelihoods are at stake.

TO: The Food and Drug Administration
RE: FSMA Food Safety Rules, Dockets FDA-2011-N-0921-0973 and FDA-2011-N-0920-1553
We the undersigned are concerned by several areas of the FDA’s revised food safety rules and endorse the following comments.

  • The cost to farmers for implementing the proposed rules will endanger the livelihoods of organic farmers and their customers’ access to safe and nutritionally superior local and organic food. This regulatory burden, as much as $12,384 for farms with sales of $500,000 or less, is an unacceptable imposition of financial hardship on producers with no history of food safety problems.
  • Farms are not facilities. Growing, harvesting, packing, or holding raw agricultural commodities are clearly part of many farm activities. Furthermore, the regulations should allow for non-contiguous farm parcel locations to be treated as one farm and not discriminate against cooperatives or food hubs.
  • The FDA must clarify that CSAs and direct market farmers are not facilities.
  • The proposed use of the EPA’s recreational water standard is an inappropriate and overly restrictive measure for testing the safety of irrigation water. Before establishing a numeric testing standard for the safety of irrigation water, the FDA must conduct a risk assessment for water used specifically for agricultural purposes, and follow the instructions from Congress that a science and risk-based approach be used for regulation.
  • Recordkeeping requirements should be reasonable, limited to one year, and allow for paper records.
  • The FDA must establish a fair process for any enforcement actions against farmers that allows due process, full documentation of any alleged food safety issues, and the opportunity for a hearing to contest erroneous information.
  • The FDA must respect the exemption from the food safety rules for smaller farms, as guaranteed by the Tester-Hagan amendment. That exemption must be determined by the level of sales of produce covered by the rule, not the total sale of all food grown and raised on a farm.
  • On-farm conservation practices need explicit support in the food safety rules. The grazing of livestock must not be considered manure application.
  • The FDA’s proposed changes made to the manure handling regulations are a needed improvement. The study committee that will be established to assess the risks of manure usage must include sustainable and organic farmers.
  • The FDA should remove the supplier verification program from the Hazard Analysis and Risk-Based Preventive Control (HARPC) food safety rule. This backdoor approach would allow for large produce buyers to impose more stringent and costly food safety regulations than outlined in the FDA’s proposed rules.
  • The FDA’s new definition of a small business is an improvement over previous proposals.

* denotes a require field

Thank you for your help! 

If you are interested in doing even more, please read the full action alert below: Read Full Article »

Action Alert — Food Safety Modernization Act: New Draft Rules Comments Due on December 15

Friday, December 5th, 2014

FDA3[This alert is over–comment period now closed]

In response to recent widespread, and sometimes deadly, outbreaks of foodborne illness, Congress passed the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) charging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with improving their oversight of the food industry.

But the intense blowback the FDA received last year from family-scale farmers and consumers over their proposed food safety rules for produce led the agency to withdraw and rewrite their proposed rules. Your comments last year had an impact!

The FDA has now released their new draft, which addresses many of the objections. However, a number of problems and pitfalls for farmers remain in the new draft. The proposal will also be of interest to the customers of local, organic food purchased through farmers markets, CSAs and co-op grocers.

Public comments are due by December 15 on the draft rules.

The Cornucopia Institute, working with other groups, has requested a 90-day extension to allow for fuller and careful analysis of the latest proposal.

You can comment online, but be sure to do so at both of these locations as the regulations impacting family scale farmers are intertwined in both of these FDA dockets:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2011-N-0921-0973
http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2011-N-0920-1553

Or you can comment by mail to Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852. Make sure you note that you are commenting on dockets FDA-2011-N-0921-0973 and FDA-2011-N-0920-1553. Your letter needs to be postmarked no later than December 15.

According to the analysis performed by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, growers with sales up to $500,000 would likely spend 4% to 6% of their gross revenue to comply with the new food safety rules.  For small farms, FSMA could consume more than half of their modest profits. It is important that family-scale farmers producing our nation’s fda2best and safest produce be protected from unnecessary and onerous regulations — this could put some farmers out of business and/or reduce the availability of organic and local food and/or increase pricing.

Key Points to Mention in Your Comments:

  • Tell the FDA that the cost to farmers for implementing the proposed rules will endanger the livelihoods of organic farmers and their customers’ access to safe and nutritionally superior local and organic food.

Read Full Article »

EPA Accepting Comments on Pollinator Health Until November 24, 2014

Wednesday, November 19th, 2014

Beyond Pesticides

Co-Chairs of Pollinator Health Task Force:
USDA’s Tom Vilsack and EPA’s Lisa Jackson
Image Source: USDA

At the close of Pollinator Week 2014 President Obama called on government agencies to create a plan to “promote the health of honey bees and other pollinators.” However, at the end of last month the Task Force announced it would miss its self-imposed December 20th deadline on its action plan, delaying needed steps towards improving pollinator health.

EPA will be accepting written comments at this link until November 24, 2014.

Talking Points for Comments:

EPA and USDA have a duty to protect our nation’s pollinators, and the Presidential memorandum has directed federal agencies to take action. Given average loss rates near 30% over the past 8 years, there is an urgent need to move quickly on finding long-term sustainable solutions for pollinator protection. A growing body of scientific evidence reveals connections between pollinator declines and pesticide exposure, making it evident to the public and government agencies that action must be taken to rein in these harmful chemicals. Read Full Article »

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