January 17th, 2013 - Lacy
On January 15th, the USDA announced the appointment of Dr. Francis Thicke, Ph.D. by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB). This 15-member board has the sole authority to approve or remove substances from a list of items approved for use in organic foods.
Read More:Organic Dairy Farmer Appointed to the National Organic Standards Board
July 3rd, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
Forming a sort-of “food safety alliance,” the USDA, Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and the Ad Council joined forces to launch a campaign titled “Food Safe Families” targeted at helping Americans reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
Read More:Can The USDA’s ‘Food Safe Families’ Program Really Prevent Contamination?
May 20th, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is being urged by the nation’s top physicians, scientists and the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to release overdue data on pesticide levels for fruits and vegetables tested in 2010.
Read More:Why Is the USDA Withholding Pesticide Residue Level Test Results?
April 11th, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
Last week, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, announced a new rule proposed by the USDA that would require all beef, pork and poultry producers in the US to test their products for potential contaminants, and hold them until test results had proven the meat products safe, before releasing the foods for sale .
Read More:USDA Announces New Testing Rules for Foodborne Pathogens
February 14th, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
A genetically modified (GM) corn variety developed exclusively for ethanol use in fuel was approved last week by Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, amidst a chorus of food manufacturers concerned the biotech corn will contaminate non-GMO crops.
Read More:New GMO Corn Variety for Ethanol Production Gets USDA Approval
January 31st, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
In a surprising move, three well known organic brands gave a supportive nod to what they’re calling “the conditional deregulation” of genetically modified (GM) alfalfa. The nation’s first certified organic retail chain, Whole Foods—who has a storewide policy banning the sale of GM foods—along with the largest organic yogurt brand, Stonyfield Yogurt, and Organic Valley, the largest co-op of organic meat, egg and dairy farmers issued their formal support in lifting restrictions on growing GM alfalfa.
Read More:Organic Leaders Targeted in Approval of Monsanto’s GM Alfalfa
January 13th, 2011 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Go to the supermarket and start pulling products off the shelves and you’ll see everything has nutrition labels, even water! And now, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) says starting in 2010, nutrition labels will be mandatory on many popular cuts of meat and poultry too.
Read More:Meat & Poultry to Get Nutrition Labels by 2012
January 9th, 2011 - Jill Ettinger
Tom Vilsack, the USDA Agriculture Secretary, is urging a compromise between parties rooted in an argument over genetically modified foods. In a letter he sent to both those on the pro side of GMO and those vehemently anti-GMO, he called for cooperation and compromise.
Read More:USDA Ag Secretary Calls For Compromise on GM Debate
April 2nd, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
Sam Farr, congressman of California’s 17th District, one of the United States’ major agricultural regions, is a longstanding organic food advocate. During the 1990s he penned America’s first organic standards laws as a California state assemblyman.
Currently he serves on the House of Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee and co-chairs the Congressional Organic Caucus, a group formed to promote organic agriculture. Recently, The New York Times Green Inc. blog interviewed him about organics and U.S. food safety. Here’s a bit:
Question: How did you first get interested in organic agriculture?
Answer: When I was in the California legislature in the ’80s, the organic growers, who were sort of the small hippie farmers in those days, brought it to my attention that there were no regulations on organic labeling. In essence, anybody could just grow a thing any way they wanted and put “organic” on it. So I carried the legislation creating the California organic act.
Question: Some environmentalists and others have called for the creation of a national Sustainable Agriculture Practice Standard that would go beyond organic certification. Do we need a better standard to measure how sustainable our food is?
Answer: It’s a lofty goal, but it seems on the academic side of any issue you need to have those lofty goals and you need some advocacy for it. Our area is, frankly, one that would be very interested. To make agriculture sustainable, the grower has got to be able to make a profit. There are a lot of market functions that I think prevent us from really becoming sustainable until we become, as a consuming society, more demanding that our food be fresh and nutritious and grown using practices that are not injurious to the environment.
Other government officials are making headways into organics, like Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack who has been crusading for reform in America’s farming and new Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Kathleen Merrigan and her passion for organic farming methods and environmental compassion.
Read More:Q & A with Organic Foodie Rep. Sam Farr
March 12th, 2009 - Gerald "Gerry" Pugliese
With the election of Barack Obama, America’s new buzzwords are “hope” and “change” and it’s catching on. It’s out with the old way of thinking and in with the new.
Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Tom Vilsack has heard the message loud and clear. Here’s been on a tear lately, spearheading reforms in America’s farming.
A staunch supporter of local farming and farmer’s right, Vilsack is sending a message to the “business as usual” crowd, times are changing. The Rodale Institute bullet his recent maneuvers:
- February 5: Wants to expand farmers’ opportunities in energy and organic and whole foods.
- February 21: Addresses 300 farmers and agriculture professionals outside Washington, sending a message that USDA is serious about civil rights issues.
- February 25: Vilsack scorns wealthy agri-business powers, like corn and wheat, by not attending the 2009 Commodity Classic in Texas.
- February 26: Cuts U.S. farm commodity payments directed at farmers and ranchers with large incomes and big sales.
In an era of big business, big spending and big lobbying, it’s encouraging to see someone looking to change all that. Too often the little guy, or little farmer, gets lost in the fray.
You can go organic and local all by yourself, join a Community Supported Agriculture.
Read More:U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Going for Positive Change