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NO. R-227. JOINT RESOLUTION RELATING TO THE ORGANIC CERTIFICATION OF AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS.

(J.R.H. 167)

Offered by: Representatives Zuckerman of Burlington, Corren of Burlington, Nelson of Ryegate and Snyder of Pittsford.

Whereas, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) standards and procedures for certifying organic agricultural products have been recognized by the Vermont Department of Agriculture since 1985 and are today widely known and highly regarded by both farmers and consumers alike, and

Whereas, in 1997 Vermont had 170 certified organic farms and processors with over 16,000 acres of land in production, and

Whereas, both Vermont farmers and consumers have a substantial interest in the continued use of an "organic" designation of agricultural products which continues to reflect the high NOFA-VT standards and procedures for organic certification, and

Whereas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed standards for the certification of agricultural products as "organic" which are substantially weaker and dramatically different than those of NOFA-VT, in that the USDA standards would potentially allow the "organic" designation to be used with agricultural production employing human sewage, genetic engineering, and irradiation, and

Whereas, the USDA added synthetic materials to the national list of allowable materials which was not authorized by the Organic Food Production Act of 1990, and

Whereas, the proposed USDA certification fees are difficult to meet by small scale "organic" growers, and

Whereas, the proposed USDA standards would raise serious questions about the quality of agricultural products certified as "organic" and would thereby undercut the years of agricultural development and marketing efforts by farmers whose products have merited the NOFA-VT organic certification, and

Whereas, organic standards are widely accepted as a guarantee of exemplary production practices and land stewardship, and

Whereas, pesticide residue testing is expensive, untimely, and difficult to interpret, and

Whereas, livestock that have had nonorganic feed will be certifiable under certainconditions even though that practice is not acceptable by most present-day organic standards, now therefore be it

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives:

That the USDA should not permit the "organic" designation to be used with agricultural production which employs human sewage, genetic engineering, or irradiation, and be it further

Resolved: That if the USDA wants to designate the agricultural uses of human sewage, genetic engineering, or irradiation as meeting certain standards, then the USDA should find a term other than "organic" for this purpose, and be it further

Resolved: That the USDA should not use the term "organic" unless it incorporates the traditionally strict standards (as used in Vermont) and the philosophy of organic agriculture of maintaining and improving the sustainability and health of the land, and be it further

Resolved: That pesticide residue testing without cause should not be part of the organic certification process, and be it further

Resolved: That because organic farming promotes a high standard of soil and water quality protection and limits the use of toxins, the federal certification program should have financial incentives for organic production rather than disincentives, and be it further

Resolved: That any certification fees required by the USDA should be based on a sliding scale corresponding to the dollar value of annual product sales, and be it further

Resolved: That the Secretary of State is directed to forward a copy of this resolution to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, to the Vermont Congressional Delegation, to the chairs of the Congressional Committees on Agriculture, and to: Docket No.

TMD-94-00-2, Eileen S. Stommes, Deputy Administrator, USDA-AMS-TM-NOP Room 4007-So., Ag. STOP 0275, P.O. Box 96456, Washington, D.C. 20090-6456.