Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Organic dustup

The Senate Agriculture Committee will conduct a hearing today at 10 a.m. to review the nomination of Governor Tom Vilsack for the Agriculture Secretary post. Meanwhile, organic consumer advocates continue to raise a ruckus about the pick while organic corporate interests have been supportive. Should be interesting if this topic comes up today. From the Cornucopia Institute, a comment about the divided organic community.

"We hate to see what appears to be the grassroots lining up in opposition of this nominee and corporate investors breaking with their most dedicated customers. This split is not healthy for the organic community," Kastel added.

Although The Cornucopia Institute is not endorsing either petition drive, they have not given up hope that the election of Barack Obama will usher in material changes at the USDA's National Organic Program.

In a candid communiqué to the Obama transition team, The Cornucopia Institute described the USDA's National Organic Program (NOP) as "dysfunctional" and experiencing a "crisis in confidence" and asked for the Obama administration to make its rehabilitation a priority.

Their letter described the NOP’s long-standing adversarial relationship with the majority of organic farmers and consumers and the groups that represent them. It said, based on information gathered from freedom of information documents: "Senior management, with oversight of the NOP, has treated industry stakeholders arrogantly and disrespectfully and has overridden NOP career staff when their findings might have been unfavorable to corporations with interests in the organic industry.”

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