To help organic dairy farms survive in the Northeast, a first-of-its-kind partnership is asking consumers to pledge to buy dairy products from 35 brands that agreed to expand their purchases of milk from the farms. The Northeast Organic Family Farm Partnership was a response to decisions by processors to pull out of the region, said Gary Hirshberg, a co-founder of Stonyfield, on Wednesday.
In the past year, major food companies have trumpeted the changes they are making in how they produce food, rolling out long-term plans to remove antibiotics from livestock production, reformulating favorites like mac and cheese to get rid of artificial ingredients, and in some cases, aiming to improve the lives of animals destined to be eaten. Yet one major campaign has stood out in its inability to achieve what activists hoped — GMO labeling.
The Republican leaders of the House may call the GMO-in-food disclosure bill for a vote as early as Wednesday, the last hurdle before sending the bill to the White House to be signed into law. The advocacy group Just Label It, which opposes the bill but considers passage certain, said "the fight for national mandatory GMO transparency now shifts to USDA and the marketplace."
Both Monsanto, the giant seed company, or Stonyfield Farm, the organic yogurt company, "have aggressively recruited academic researchers" to carry their banner in the tussle over labeling foods made with genetically modified organisms, says the New York Times.
The GMO food-labeling campaign brought Hollywood star power to the Capitol as a counterweight to House passage of a bill to pre-empt state labeling laws.
The "good food" sector, which includes Chipotle, Whole Foods and Applegate, are making inroads in the marketplace, but when it comes to policymaking, "their involvement on Capitol Hill, on issues from the farm bill to nutrition labeling, has ranged from limited to non-existent," says Politico.
Former deputy agriculture secretary Kathleen Merrigan will become a co-chair of the AGree farm-policy initiative, succeeding Gary Hirshberg, founder of the organic food company Stonyfield Farm. Hirshberg is a leader in the campaign to label GMO foods. As a Senate staff worker, Merrigan had a key role in legislation creating the national organic program in 1990 and in implementing it nearly a decade later at the USDA. She was deputy secretary from 2009-13.
The three-year-old AGree project on food and agriculture policy "is pivoting into action," said co-chair Gary Hirshberg during a "Future of Food" forum.