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FDA To Ban Organic Farming?

organic farming ban fda

Image source: nofavt.org

Farming methods that have been used in America and throughout the world for centuries are in danger of essentially being banned under proposed regulations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Small and large organic farms alike that sell produce would be impacted by the proposed new rules, which would place burdensome restrictions on everything from compost to livestock to water – so much so that many organic farmers will be forced out of business, said Judith McGeary, executive director of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, a national organization that supports independent family farmers. The restrictions placed on compost would be so severe that it amounts to a ban. Organic farms that have livestock in close proximity to their crops also would find it difficult to clear government rules. Additionally, organic farms that use surface water would be forced to test their water regularly. All total, it could add up to many organic farms simply closing, unable to grow crops naturally or unable to afford the cost.  It’s all part of the FDA’s food safety proposals that impact all farms – not just organic. But it’s the organic farms that will be hit hardest. Congress handed FDA the power in 2010 to regulate farms.

Off The Grid News recently asked McGeary to explain her concerns about the proposed regulations. Following is a transcript:

Off The Grid News: There has been a lot of conflicting data on how the FDA’s proposed food safety rules will impact organic farmers. Could you begin by telling us how it would impact their use of compost?

Judith McGeary: The proposed rules include extremely stringent restrictions on the use of what the FDA calls “biological soil amendments,” which includes compost, compost teas and manure. The regulations cover how the soil amendments can be made, their handling, storage, application and much more.

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The single biggest issue is the mandatory waiting period in between application and harvesting the crops. For “untreated” amendments – which include not only manure, but also worm compost, compost teas with any additives, and any compost that doesn’t meet FDA’s specific standards – there is a 9-month waiting period. This makes these valuable soil amendments essentially unusable. Even fully treated compost would require a 45-day waiting period, limiting its usefulness.

These waiting periods are simply not needed. Organic farmers have been using both manure and compost for centuries, with excellent results. The certified organic standards have no waiting period on the use of compost, and only a 90-day to 120-day waiting period on the use of raw manure; and there have been no reported outbreaks from these practices. The FDA’s proposal would destroy one of the core tools for sustainable food production, for no good reason.

OTGN: Organic farmers have also complained about the restrictions on animals and livestock on organic farms. Could you please explain that?

McGeary: The proposed provisions about domestic livestock and wildlife are troubling in large part because they provide extreme discretion to FDA inspectors and officials, leaving farmers at the mercy of what their individual inspector thinks.

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organic farmingFor example, if there is a “reasonable probability” that livestock that graze in fields will contaminate covered produce, then the proposed standards require an “adequate waiting period” between grazing and harvest. The regulations do not specify a length of time that FDA considers an adequate waiting period, but some preamble language implies that it could be 9 months, the same as the waiting period between applying raw manure and harvest. This would effectively force a farmer to abandon using that section of his property for the growing season.

Similarly, if there is a reasonable probability that working animals will contaminate covered produce, then FDA requires a farmer to take “measures” to prevent the introduction of foreseeable hazards such as animal feces, but the agency does not specify what those measures are.

Combined with the proposed rule on animal-based soil amendments, this section poses significant problems particularly for diversified farms that combine produce and animal production, a key part of which is adding animal excreta to the soil. These diversified farms are efficient, both biologically and economically, yet would be hard-pressed to comply with the proposed rules; even ignoring expense, many of their methods simply could not be brought into compliance. These farms have not been shown to pose a high risk of foodborne illnesses in practice, and are being penalized based on fear-based assumptions rather than data.

OTGN: What other burdensome restrictions would it place on organic farmers?

McGeary: The proposed rule contains numerous requirements that would burden all types of small-scale producers, both organic and conventional. It covers buildings, equipment, personnel training, record-keeping and much more.

organic farming fdaSome of the most expensive and difficult provisions relate to water, especially water that is used for irrigating crops. The proposed rule requires extensive testing if the farmer uses water that is not from a public water supply. If surface water is used, the farmer must test the water every 7 days during the growing season.  For areas such as Texas and the South, the growing season can extend throughout the year, requiring 52 water tests! Since the testing must be done at an approved lab, the farmer has to either ship the sample each week or drive to the lab, which may be several hours away. The cost of such testing would be several thousand dollars per year.

If the water doesn’t meet the FDA’s standard – a standard based on recreational use, not agricultural — the farmer must “immediately discontinue” the use of a source of water. Yet FDA recognizes that it is very unlikely that any untreated surface water could meet this standard, forcing farmers to either treat the water with antimicrobial chemicals or find another source. In many cases, this requirement alone would be enough to drive farmers out of business10.

OTGN: Would the rules end up putting some organic farmers out of business, because it will make it so difficult to farm and sell products organically?

McGeary: Definitely. The rules impose very extensive costs, in both money and time, on all types of producers. The small producers will find it particularly difficult to comply, and the restrictions on biological soil amendments and livestock are simply not feasible for some organic producers. The combined effects could be devastating.

OTGN: How can organic farmers and their supporters fight back?

McGeary: Organic farmers and their consumers have already been fighting back very effectively, fortunately. In addition to submitting comments to the FDA on the proposed rule, we encouraged people to contact Congress to express their outrage, and the political pressure had a real impact – the FDA announced in December that it would reconsider these provisions and propose revised rules in the summer of 2014. The FDA’s admission that the proposed rules need significant changes is a very positive step. But it remains to be seen what the actual changes will be…and whether they will truly fix the problems. We need people to be prepared to be active again in the next round, this summer. They can stay informed about what is happening, and what they can do about it, by signing up for email alerts at FarmAndRanchFreedom.org.

What do you think about the proposed rules? Let us know in the comments section below.

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35 comments

  1. Lucille Rothstein

    I’m moving to Mexico, Southern Mexico. I have a farm down there and I am growing food and not only feeding myself, but my neighbours too! I am showing them how to plant food and with the weather being so nice for it, it is very easy to grow great healthy food. The government might be corrupt in Mexico, but they aren’t wanting to kill all of their civilians like in America.

    • Lucille,

      Moving to Mexico is only postponing the inevitable. They will come for you in time there as well. Running will only postpone the fight for you, and when that fight comes, you will find yourself with fewer allies, and the enemy’s strength will have increased.

      Stand and fight, or die face down in the dirt.

    • Moving to another country is an excellent idea.
      The FDA does not have legal authority in foreign countries. Just as the IRS has no power outside of the USA. People in the know have used this limitation to conceal income money investments, stocks bonds and property of all sorts. I have used a similar technique for years and my lawyer has also. There is no logical reason to stay inside the USA and try to fight the FDA when you can bypass the whole problem by relocating in another country.The FDA cannot enforce American laws inside foreign countries.Often the easiest way to get freedom is the path of least resistance!

      No need to die in the dirt as other say.Live on with a smile, eyes bright toward the wonderful sky.

      • I wish i could look at the wonderful sky, unfortunately the aerosol spraying is in my way. From what I hear, it’s going on in other countries too. carnicominstitute.org

      • American Government Agencies (the whole alphabet soup of them) may not have any authority in any other country but as long as they think they do the planets number one bully will still be America – be it the corporation owned government or the corporations (Monsanto, Exon et al) themselves.
        I have a number of friends who are American citizens but thank the Lord I do not have to deal with their corrupt, bought and paid for government.
        Maybe the banning of organic food production is what will be required to make the average joe stand up and kick the yes-men out.
        My only hope is that it happens soon and is peaceful.

  2. By the Geneva Conventions, and all other moral codes, DUM-DUM bullets designed to maim are CRIMES. The ONLY legal bullets are solid core. For you pseudo-2nd Amendment Tea Partiers ….. these bullets are meant for YOU. I am sure DHS/FEMA is stocking up. They do not penetrate vests, they DO penetrate CIVILIANS. The ONLY bullets that should be made or permitted are SOLID CORE. Humanity writhed under the boot of despotism for centuries, as ARMORED KNIGHTS rode roughshod over the Serfs, protected by their BODY ARMOR from any hope of the Peasants to gain their Freedom. Then, the English Yoeman learned to make a Longbow with a yard long arrow the went right through that armor, those bows were constructed easily and COULD NOT BE BANNED. PRESTO, the “nobility” suddenly SAW THE LIGHT and began to grant RIGHTS to the Peasants.
    “FUNNY” ….. that the “antigunners” never protest DUM-DUM bullets

  3. This FDA move is a legalized crime designed to destroy small independent farmers in a situation where big corporate farms will eagerly gobble up bankrupted family farms. As the article attests, the outlawed practices have been implemented for many centuries with generally good results in a healthy ecological model, from dust to dust. This FDA ban is not about protecting any but big corporations’ vice grip on the markets. Our Amish friends appear to be most severely in danger here, as using horses in the fields may be prohibited by these despotic regulations for tyranny.

  4. Blow me!

  5. At every level, in all areas, all sectors of the U.S. Economy, Industry, Medicine, Agriculture, Foreign Policy have been taken over by monopoly private interests that now run The U.S. Government and its Policy Formulations.

    Whether it’s your own citizens, or citizens of the world, these elite monopolists want to see you Americans, and citizens of the world gone from the face of the earth.

    At some point, you American citizens will need to take back your country from these Monopolists.

    In the process of saving yourselves, you will save world. If that means anything to you?

  6. Toby Forstater

    This is horrible. The inorganic farmers should be taxed and forced to pay for the ones doing it right. It’s time we flip the switch. Give the good guys a break.

  7. There is a reason why they are passing these regulations. It is Agenda 21 population reduction. They want to force us to eat GMO food and reduce small farm production and independance.

  8. Just say NO… and FOAD to the federal government intrusion.

  9. Rumplestiltskin

    Remember this you self righteous bstrds. We the people have the right to protect our food and water resources from government overreach, and at gun point if need be. The FDA bureaucrats don’t have a clue about farming and have only been placed in those positions because of the cronyism between the corporate drug and chemical companies and the government. This swinging door policy is not in America’s best interest, and if you boys try and rob us of our right to, “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”, you WILL be deemed the enemy of the people.

  10. FIRST OFF,you can’t TALK to any demon from hell,ITS FORBIDDEN,for one ,and its a waste of time,for two,and if you want your country back ,YOU NEED TO TAKE PICTURES of all government employees,POST THEM on street corners,power poles,AND make them big enough for everyone to see,EVEN IF ITS YOUR NEIGHBOR,post them anyway,MAKE SURE when the shit hits the fan,EVERYONE KNOWS WHO THE “REAL ENEMY IS”,or just keep doing nothing and wind up STARVING AND IN A FEMA DEATH CAMP….ITS YOUR CHOICE……………..

  11. Getting in touch with Congress will do absolutely nothing, as is visible from past situations of this type. This is a plan tied to Agenda 21 and nothing is stopping them, beaurocratically at least. What I think should be done is the farmers simply not complying whatever the FDA approves. Many will suffer because swat teams will be sent against them, but they should prevail and not bend to the rules nontheless. The FDA just cares about our health so much that they approved genetically modified bacteria whose extrement is used to bring you Splenda….doesn’t that just make you feel warm and fuzzy about how they care. Oh and Monsanto can perform its own safety tests that the FDA rubber stamps as well…. I feel safer already…

  12. This is a combination of the governments response to the push back people are making against GMO foods, Monsanto, and many other poisons. It is also the UN’s Agenda 21 in action. People need to really fight against this. Please join the fight against Agenda 21 at the local level and against the many protests going against big AG and Monsanto. We can’t stop fighting the fight.

  13. If the FDA isn’t careful, some of their “inspectors” may end up as part of the compost pile…

  14. Total and massive non-compliance.

  15. Wow this website just continues to spout yellow journalism in its headlines. These restrictions are a problem and should be fought but sites like this DO NOT HELP our movement at all.

    I have publicly stated to my listeners (all 90,000) that this site is not to be taken with any creditability at this point.

    The article is okay, the headline is nonsense, you should be ashamed of reporting this the way you have.

    • Thanks for your comment. We really enjoy your podcasts. The headline asks a question: Will organic farming be banned? We stand behind the headline. In many ways, the answer is “yes.” Composting won’t be allowed on farms. There will be major water restrictions. Inspectors will have wide latitude. Livestock won’t be allowed near crops. Many farms will be going out of business. We made the headline a question because there is uncertainty. Thanks again for the comment.

    • So obviously you either didn’t see the question mark in the headline or your here to trash this site and try to get subscribers for your site. Well to me that means you don’t pay very much attention to details and that probably show on your site. So either way I’ll stay clear of your site.

    • Thank you ModernSurvival. I ‘liked’ the Off the Grid News on FB for tips on Off the Grid living. Initially I saw quite a bit of this sort of content…..but over time fear mongering crept in and now every other article is anti-government propaganda. Meh……

  16. William Barret Travis

    Maybe we should eat the FDA?

  17. wish they would impose these regulations and more on the big busines farms, as they are poisoning our land, water and bodies. Also why not on Monsanto’s many products???

  18. SO WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO ABOUT IT? GRUMBLE AND DO NOTHING???

  19. The United States certainly does control agriculturally outside their own borders. Don’t believe otherwise. Including Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East with the Green Revolution (the development of big agribusiness/monoculture farms) and of course GM crops.

    Stand up and fight, there is nowhere to run and hide for long!

  20. As an organic farmer myself(co-owner and manager), this article is extraordinarily stupid. As manure only adds comparatively small amounts of nutrients (only nitrogen of which can really be lost), and whose primary use is to “build up” the soil, there is no problem with having to wait beefier harvesting from amended soil, we don’t even apply any until it has rotted for 120 days. The idea being you don’t want E Coli or something like such to be contaminating what you’re selling. As for having animals near your crops, that’s a bad idea to start with, again for the reason mentioned above. Now on the surface water, if you have livestock, this is perfectly reasonable, as y don’t want the water contaminated with other food borne illnesses. Get your facts straight before you start jumping to conclusions and fear mongering. Organic farming isn’t going anywhere, and in fact, the gubmint is very helpful to small farmers, helps them in many ways, and strongly encourages their growth.

    • We do appreciate the comments. Other organic farmers view this quite differently from you, and we are not the only ones who have reported this. One quoted in the LA Times said of the FDA: “They are going to drive farms out of business.” You can read more here: http://articles.latimes.com/2014/feb/22/nation/la-na-food-safety-20140223

      Again, thanks.

      • Right, but the jump from “they’re applying reasonable regulations to manure use” to “they’re banning organic farming” is perfectly unwarranted and unnecessary fear mongering.

        • The story says that nowhere, and neither does the headline. The headline is a question that could be answered “yes” or “no.” Different farmers are answering it differently.

  21. The FDA was developed to protect the populous from unethical or poor practices by producers of food and medications… Until the producers learned how to control those regulations by infiltrating the FDA, which now protects the unethical interests of the producers from the rights of the people. Time to restructure the FDA and diminish its power. This country isn’t even a shadow of its former self.

  22. Fight back…order Wormies Earth Farm worm castings today. Your plants will love you for it…mine do! This is a little thing we can all do to make a difference. They cannot arrest us all…Worm lovers UNITE! Organic Farmers join the wonderful world of worms at http://www.wormiesearthfarm.com see how worms are serving humanity!

    and don’t forget to visit http://www.homeinspectionsbyhousecheck.com to support me while I support our WORMS!

  23. People, with 84 million people supporting 143 million;
    With the FDA staff versus the farmers;
    With hungry people wanting food…. TWO WORDS COME TO MIND:

    CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE

  24. Hi there just wanted to give you a quick heads up.

    The text in your content seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer.
    I’m not sure if this is a formatting issue or something to do with web browser compatibility but I figured I’d post to let you know.
    The design and style look great though! Hope you get the problem fixed soon. Thanks

  25. It all goes back to money, as in how can the big money (ie Monsanto) make more, and who cares if a few organic farmers can’t grow anything ! Hell nestle`s ceo wants to regulate water for profit. His profit! I’m thinking another country sounds like a good plan.

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