REMARKS OF SECRETARY GLICKMAN PROPOSED ORGANIC STANDARDS - DECEMBER 15, 1997
(National Organic Program Proposed)
Today, we reach a significant milestone inwhat I would characterize as a yeoman's effort to bring some unanimity andconsistent integrity to the growing and vibrant field of organic farming --providing an economic boost to all of U.S. agriculture, but in particularAmerica's small farmers.
Before I get into details, I want to commend the work of the NationalOrganic Standards Board, headed by Bob Anderson who's here today. I also wantto thank Senator Leahy who's been our organic leader' on Capitol Hill. And, Iwant to recognize the work of USDA's National Organic Program staff who'vebeen on this issue day in and day out. This has not been an easy task.
This effort has captured a lot of public interest, but if you ask peopleto actually sit down and define what organic' means, you get all kinds ofdifferent answers. It's a difficult thing to pin down and get consensus on.That's why this rulemaking process has been lengthy. We're talking not justabout defining a process that's long eluded uniform distinction, but alsospecifying standards -- for inspection and accreditation; for all commodities-- including meat and poultry; and for processing. And, we want to do it all responsibly, so we can confidently place the USDA seal on these products witha label that says and means organic.'
What is organic? Generally, it is agriculture produced through a naturalas opposed to synthetic process. The natural portion of the definition isfairly obvious, but process is an equally critical distinction. When wecertify organic, we are certifying not just a product but the farming andhandling practices that yield it. When you buy a certified organic tomato, forinstance, you are buying the product of an organic farm.
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