USDA Reopens Public Comment on Coexistence

April 29, 2015 – A lively debate on the subject of agricultural coexistence has persuaded the U.S. Department of Agriculture to further extend an already-stretched deadline for public comment on the topic to May 11, 2015.

USDA’s Stakeholder Workshop on Coexistence was held March 12-13 at North Carolina State University, but public debate sparked by the workshop has continued unabated. The initial comment deadline was pushed from March 27 to April 10, but as comments continued to pour in, the agency officially re-opened the comment period today, with a new closing date of May 11.

Click here to read OFRF's official comments to the USDA on Coexistence. 

Comments received on the USDA website from April 10-27, when the comment period was technically closed, will be included in the official record. As of today, more than 4,500 comments on coexistence have been submitted via the agency’s web portal.

“Agricultural Coexistence” refers to the concurrent cultivation of conventional, genetically modified, organic and identity preserved crops by neighboring farmers, and represents the USDA’s efforts to find ways for all of these economically-Important sectors to peacefully coexist. But the Kumbaya moment has been elusive.

Organic growers have long struggled with genetic contamination of their crops from genetically modified crops on nearby fields. And contamination issues have multiplied as a number of U.S. trading partners refuse to accept shipments of genetically modified agricultural products, and “identity preserved” crops valued for their genetic purity become more economically important.

"This is a crticial opportunity for the organic community to weigh in on the challenges of limiting genetic contamination, and help craft regulations that work in the real world," said OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer. "We urge organic farmers to take advantage of this extended commenting period."

To ensure members of the public have access to the key workshop information, recordings of the original workshop webcast—as well as copies of workshop presentations and summaries of USDA activities to support of coexistence—are available for public viewing on the USDA Stakeholder Workshop on Coexistence Web page

Additionally, USDA invites stakeholders to submit comments, feedback, ideas, or concerns, on any of the topics discussed during the workshop, using the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to the website 

Postal Mail/Commercial Delivery: Send your comment to Docket No. APHIS–2013–0047, Regulatory Analysis and Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A–03.8, 4700 River Road Unit 118, Riverdale, MD 20737–1238.

Maria Gaura - OFRF

Image courtesy oneyeartrip.com