Policy

Contact Your Senator Now On the DARK Act!

On July 23rd, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would eliminate the consumer’s right-to-know by blocking all state efforts to require labeling of genetically modified organism (GMO) foods. The “Deny Americans the Right to Know Act” or DARK Act would make voluntary labeling of GMO foods the national standard.

The labeling bill would also dilute the USDA organic certification because it does not explicitly state the certification as evidence of non-GMO, and includes no additional certification or testing requirements. Furthermore, the bill allows products to be labeled non-GMO while using GMO feed, processing aids or enzymes—despite the fact that existing USDA Organic regulations do not allow the use of GMO feed, processing aids or enzymes. 

EU Countries File to Ban GMO Crops

Nineteen of the 28 European Union member states have applied to keep genetically modified crops out of all or part of their territory. The decision is in accordance with the October 3rd deadline for opting out of the use of GM crops, already authorized as safe for cultivation, or under consideration by the EU.

The countries include Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland and Slovenia. Belgium has opted to keep its French-speaking Wallonia region GMO-free as well. These EU members join Britain, who is also seeking a ban for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, leaving England the only country willingly allowing GM crop cultivation.

Organic Farming Gives Maine’s Economy a Boost

According to the 2014 Organic Survey released by the USDA in September, Maine added the most new organic farms of any state between 2008 and 2014. The state added 139 new organic farms during the time of the survey, for a total of 517, or roughly 10 percent of the 8,173 farms the USDA counted in 2012. In an economy that has faced significant challenges in recent years, this is good news. 

An article in the Bangor Daily News attributes the growth to innovative, private sector programs that connect new farmers with the experienced, help lower the cost of farmland, and make it easier for growers to get their products to large buyers.

USDA Expands Farm Safety Net, Offers Greater Flexibility for Organic and other Farmers

September 17, 2015 - One of the challenges facing U.S. organic farmers is the lack of coverage, or limited risk protection, available through the federal crop insurance program. The standard practices of organic farmers have not fit well into an insurance framework created to serve conventional agriculture.

But thanks to provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill, organic growers could soon see much-improved options for crop insurance; such as coverage for diversified farm operations and reimbursement rates that cover organic’s higher costs.

The farm bill required the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish organic price elections for all organic crops by the 2015 crop insurance year, which began in July 2014. Risk protection options have also improved in recent years through the efforts of USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA).

A recent announcement by Agriculture Deputy Secretary Krysta Harden revealed several changes that will benefit organic farmers.

“Second Day of Life” Rule for organic poultry challenged

August 27, 2015 - The ongoing effort to tighten federal “origin of livestock” rules for organic dairy producers has inspired one industry watchdog to demand similar requirements for organic chicken producers, who overwhelmingly rely on conventionally-raised chicks to stock organic flocks.

The Center for Food Safety (CFS), in recent comments on the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) proposed new rules for transitioning conventionally-raised dairy cows to organic management, asked the agency to reconsider “second day of life” rules for poultry, which requires organic management only from the birds’ second day of life forward.

Big Food Piles on as Congress Considers GMO Label Ban

August 20, 2015 - This summer the so-called “Safe and Accurate Food Labeling Act,” passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a one-sided vote of 275-150. Opponents of the legislation prefer the name Deny Americans the Right to Know Act (DARK) because it denies states the right to require labeling of GMO foods, and consumers the right to know what their food contains.

If approved, the DARK Act would nullify laws in three states that require labeling of food products containing GMO ingredients. Vermont law mandates labeling of food products with GMO ingredients beginning July 1, 2016; while labeling laws in Connecticut and Maine are scheduled to go into effect when other northeastern states pass similar legislation.  Another 17 states are considering similar legislation.

The DARK Act would bar states from enacting laws requiring GMO labeling, block state laws prohibiting the term “natural” on advertising and labels of GMO foods, and make it virtually impossible for U.S. Food and Drug Administration to set up a mandatory national GMO labeling system.  

OFRF Public Comment to USDA RE: Coexistence

                                   

March 4, 2014           

Secretary Tom Vilsack

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave, SW

Washington, DC         20250

Re:       Request for Public Input, Enhancing Agricultural Coexistence

            Docket No. APHIS–2013–0047

Dear Secretary Vilsack,

Conservation programs key to farm bill

Hudson, S.D. - One of the American farmer’s primary responsibilities is protecting our farmland’s soil and water.

photo of farmlandFarmer Dan Gillespie talks about the importance of supporting conservation programs in the farm bill 

For the long-term food security of our nation, we must have productive soils that are not washing away or depleted of nutrients and organic matter.

On my farm, I have used two important working land conservation farm programs to enhance the productivity of my land: the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Conservation Stewardship Program.

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