Pending Regs

USDA extends comment period for ‘certified organic’ animal rule

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Leaders of the Senate and House Agriculture committees said Tuesday that the Obama administration has granted their request to extend the public comment period on new requirements for meat sold under the “certified organic “ label.

{mosads}Last month, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Rep. Michael Conaway (R-Texas), the committees’ chairmen, along with Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.), the committees’ ranking members, sent a letter to Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack calling the rule “complex in nature” and asking for more time for comments.

The lawmakers said their constituents are concerned about possible unintended consequences like reduced access to organic products, substantially increased organic food costs for consumers, increased exposure to disease and mortality for organic poultry, and increased risk of contamination of food-borne illness.

In a statement Tuesday, the lawmakers said the U.S. Department of Agriculture has agreed to give the public an additional 30 days for comment, which are now due by July 13.

“We are pleased the USDA acted immediately to allow producers, consumers, retailers and animal health experts more time to offer their comments on the proposed rules,” the lawmakers said in a joint statement. “We will continue to work with the department to address the concerns being raised by our constituents.”

The rule, first proposed in April, clarifies how organic producers and handlers must treat livestock and poultry throughout the animals’ lives, including when they are transported and slaughtered.

Tags Debbie Stabenow Organic certification Organic farming Organic food Pat Roberts Tom Vilsack Tom Vilsack

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