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Action Alert from Organic Family Farmers to USDA on Degrading Organic Standards

Action Alert Posted 5/25/04

The Corporate Attack on Organic Agriculture
USDA National Organic Program selling out to corporate agribusiness

It's time for organic consumers and farmers to draw a line in the sand. Now
that organic agriculture is a 12 billion dollar industry, it is squarely in
the crosshairs of multinational corporate sharpshooters. Some want to
discredit organics and kill the hope it offers farmers. Others manufacturers prices, and endangering the integrity of organic agriculture (factory farms,
nonorganic inputs, and imported ingredients with questionable
certification).

· Large multinational corporations like General Mills, Kelloggs, Heinz,
Dean's, and Dannon are gobbling up organic concerns and contracting out to
factory farms or importing their ingredients, and raising prices to the
consumer while sometimes cutting what they're paying farmers.

· The political appointees and bureaucrats at the USDA's National
Organic Program (NOP) are becoming masters at creating loopholes for
corporate organic farming. Want to raise chickens without access to the
outdoors, include an unapproved preservative in your product, bring in
replacement dairy cattle shot-up with antibiotics and from nonorganic
sources? No problem, the NOP would not think of making you choose between
the integrity of organic agriculture and your greedy zeal to increase
profits. Just this month they approved the use of antibiotics on young
cattle on dairy organic farms!

· Right-wing think tanks like the Hudson Institute and Competitive
Enterprise Institute are cranking out misleading news stories accusing
organic farmers of lying to consumers about not using pesticides,
mislabeling food, etc. Not surprisingly, funding for this smear-campaign is
coming from large chemical and biotechnology companies like Dupont and
Monsanto.

Take action now!

Please send a letter, e-mail or fax to the United States Department of
Agriculture Secretary demanding that the USDA rebuild the NOP (new
management/staff with strong professional/organic backgrounds and support
for organic ideals), an immediate withdrawal of the recent guidance
publications, and the nomination of new National Organic Standards Board
members who are universally respected to fill open slots On the NOSB.
A form letter or talking points, to help you formulate your own
correspondence, is available by visiting www.cornucopia.org
<http://www.cornucopia.org/> .

Secretary Ann M Veneman
United States Department of Agriculture
Room 200-A
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20250

Ann.Veneman@usda.gov

Telephone # 202-720-3631 Fax # 202-720-2166

Now is the time to draw that line in the sand. If we wait, we run the risk
of losing quality organic food and seeing the corporate sector, instead of
organic farmers and consumers, benefiting from all the hard work that has
gone into building this community.

Yours in solidarity,

Mark Kastel
Director
The Organic Integrity Project

PS: Please pass this message on to other supporters of organic food!

The Cornucopia Institute
P.O. Box 126
Cornucopia, Wisconsin 54827
organic@cornucopia.org <mailto:organic@cornucopia.org>

The Cornucopia Institute is dedicated to the fight for economic justice for
the family-scale farming community. Through research, advocacy and economic
development our goal is to empower farmers both politically and through
marketplace initiatives.

The Organic Integrity Project will act as a corporate watchdog assuring that
no compromises to the credibility of organic farming methods and the food it
produces are made in the pursuit of profit. We will actively resist
regulatory rollbacks and the weakening of organic standards to protect and
maintain consumer confidence in the organic food label.