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An open letter to the
Secretary of Agriculture

Hello. When the staff attended the Organic Trade Association (OTA) conference in early May, we heard rumblings of deep discontent about the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP).

The now infamous NOP “clarifications” on scope of products, pesticide inerts, dairy antibiotic use and livestock feed had just blind-sided the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). The board’s members include members from many sectors of the organic community, including farmers, handlers, consumer/public interest and environmentalist sectors.

Members were stunned by being shut out of the process. They were shocked by the content of the announcements, which undercut long-standing board positions and previous NOP directives. Soon, several groups initiated action campaigns to unleash grassroots resistance to the April announcements.

Yet for Jim Riddle, vice chair of the NOSB and’s organic policy specialist, the popular firestorm was part of a deeper concern. He had worked diligently at seeking positive outcomes for the past year in the face of repeated, significant disappointments at NOP behavior toward the board.

So when USDA Secretary Anne Veneman agreed Wednesday to nullify recent NOP announcements, Riddle decided to go on record here to publicly call for real change to get the NOP relationship with the NOSB back on track. His “Open Letter to the Secretary” caps a week of national stories questioning the validity of the organic label and editorials taking the USDA to task for the NOP’s actions.

Riddle lays out what the Secretary must do to maintain the confidence of the organic farming community. You can let her know if you are watching, too, by speaking out through our Action Alert. To view Jim's letter, background information and the action alert, got to The New Farm homepage at:

Keep farming, and watch for next week’s regular update to our homepage.

The New Farm Team



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