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RMFU files recommendations on organic regs

DENVER>>The latest round of federal regulations proposed to govern the production, processing and retailing of organic products represents a strong step forward in providing profitable marketing opportunities for producers while assuring consumers of the integrity of the organic products they purchase, according to the president of the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union.

In formal comments filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Monday, the Rocky Mountain Farmers Union called the latest round of proposed regulations “a good faith effort to codify the recommendations developed by the National Organic Standards Board in 1994.” The organization listed several recommendations, however, for strengthening the rules as USDA prepares the final regulations:

• Wording must be tightened to eliminate potential loopholes concerning the use of genetically modified organisms, irradiation and sewage sludge in organic production.
• The regulations must treat livestock uniformly for meat and dairy production.
• Provisions concerning animal confinement practices must be clarified to define such terms as inclement weather, well being of the animal, and stage of production.
• Organic producers must have some form of recourse for damages created by chemical and/or genetic drift.
• Certification fees must not discriminate against small farmers and/or limited resource producers.

Farmers Union also commended the USDA for developing the proposed organic regulations in a manner that will not limit producers’ ability to develop other types of eco-labeled products, such as natural or sustainably-produced.