Posted by: Ben | March 25, 2009

Message to Obama: Please Fix the USDA’s Organic Mess

Message to Obama:  Please Fix the USDA’s Organic Mess

Overhaul of Management and Culture Needed

Please urge President Obama and new USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack to take immediate action to repair the USDA’s increasingly dysfunctional National Organic Program (NOP).  Suspect imports of grains, nuts, and vegetables from China and other countries, questionable organic milk, beef, and eggs from giant factory farms, and the erosion of opportunity for family farmers are plaguing the organic sector.

Make your voice heard by downloading the proxy-letter from

The Cornucopia Institute’s web sit:

We will hand deliver your letter to both Mr. Obama and Secretary Vilsack.

The Cornucopia Institute, a national organic watchdog representing family farmers, has sent a formal letter and briefing paper to the President and USDA Secretary:

The letter specifically asks that they take “a very strong and proactive posture in turning around management at the National Organic Program,” which they described as being “Katrina-ed” by the Bush administration.

“The stewardship of the organic program at the USDA has been an absolute abomination,” said Mark A. Kastel, Cornucopia’s senior farm policy analyst.  “It was not just management by neglect-it was an intentional monkeywrenching of the Department’s oversight of the industry.”

In the last several years, audits prepared by the American National Standards Institute and the Inspector General’s office have blasted the NOP for failing to ensure that independent certification agencies, which verify organic farming and production practices, are competent and properly performing their jobs.

During the Bush administration, USDA political appointees significantly softened penalties for organic lawbreakers, overruling stiff enforcement actions recommended by career civil servants, for factory farms that were found willfully violating federal organic standards.  Other complaints detailing abuses on factory farms were quashed or went uninvestigated.

The Bush administration also stacked the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) with representatives from corporate agribusiness instead of, as Congress intended, a broad spectrum of the organic community.  The President and Secretary need to hear that the organic community wants the very best new, independent nominees on the 15-member NOSB.  Our new governmental leaders need to hear from you, now!

Cornucopia’s “Change@USDA” campaign is helping stakeholders in the organic community unite for rehabilitation of the NOP.  We need a sweeping management shakeup at the National Organic Program.  We need your help to build momentum for change.

NOTE:  More specifics on Cornucopia’s CHANGE@USDA campaign can be found at:

Please make additional copies of the proxy-letter for your friends and family and mail them back to The Cornucopia Institute ASAP … at PO Box 126, Cornucopia, WI 54827 … and please forward this message on to others!

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