Ibach: Gene editing might fit in organic agriculture

The USDA official overseeing organic agriculture said the sector, which rejects GMO crops along with the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, might benefit from gene-edited varieties. “There is the opportunity to open the discussion,” said Agriculture Undersecretary Greg Ibach.

OTA lays groundwork for voluntary organic checkoff

Four months after the Trump administration killed a proposal for a mandatory checkoff program for organics, the industry’s largest trade group said it would move forward with a voluntary checkoff to promote organic food and products.

Reinstate organic livestock rule, industry asks Perdue

On one of the last days before USDA can carry out its plan to kill the organic livestock rule, the organic food movement put a full-page ad in the Washington Post, asking Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to drop the idea. The USDA announced in mid-December that it lacked statutory authority to implement the rule, which was a decade in the making, and set a 30-day comment period before it would withdraw the regulation.

USDA says will consider withdrawal of organic livestock rule during six-month hiatus

First, the Trump administration delayed the so-called GIPSA rule on fair play in livestock marketing. Now, it is issuing a similar six-month delay of a regulation setting nationwide animal welfare standards for organic livestock and asking if it would kill the rule, re-write it or let it take effect. The actions raise questions about the future of a proposed organic checkoff program. All three initiatives were among the final Obama-era acts at USDA.

Vilsack ‘can’t guarantee’ organic animal welfare regs will get done

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack hopes that new proposed organic regulations for animal welfare will be complete before President Obama leaves office in January, but isn't sure. “I’m hopeful that we get them done,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a report by Harvest Public Media. “I can’t guarantee that they’ll get done, but I’m hopeful they get done.”

Organic checkoff goes on the back burner

The industry proposal for a checkoff program to support organic food and products is moving so slowly at USDA that the Obama administration will probably leave office before producers vote on it. The Organic Trade Association submitted its proposal in May 2015 and as recently as this summer hoped for a referendum this year to establish the producer-funded research and promotion program.