The USDA is running fast and loose with the organic certification program, according to the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.
Republican Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) voiced his discontent over the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) organic certification program, the Washington Post reports. Roberts, in a hearing pertaining to this year's Farm Bill — a major legislative proposal that could impact the agricultural industry greatly —he said that
In his opening remarks, he said, "It seems that uncertainty and dysfunction have overtaken the National Organic Standards Board and the regulations associated with the National Organic Program... . These problems create an unreliable regulatory environment and prevent farmers that choose organic from utilizing advancements in technology and operating their business in an efficient and effective manner. Simply put, this hurts our producers and economies in rural America.”
The controversy has arisen as recent imported organic products turned out to be fraudulent, based on scientific evidence that the products were produced by conventional means.
Roberts also argued throughout the hearing that the fraudulent importation of so-called organic products by foreign producers was an immediate threat to local economies in the rural parts of the United States.
Roberts sentiments are similar to several Democratic senators, who some time ago, request the USDA's Inspector General to initiate a probe into the agency's enforcement for organic import standards. Trade groups have also come out on a national stage criticizing the current state of the organic certification program.
The United States remains the largest importer and exporter of organic food products in the world. The USDA also maintains some of the strictest rules regarding organic imports in the entire developed world.
Currently, American prices for organic foods are low; however, organic producers blame exports from other countries that produce on wider scales. With this sentiment, it is also not surprising that several of these advocates and industry leaders seek to establish more protectionist policies surrounding the trade of such products.
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