USDA OrganicBarbara H. Peterson

Farm Wars

There has been a lot of talk lately about how “organic” USDA Certified Organic really is. In response, the USDA National Organics Program (NOP) will be requiring that 5% of organic certified farms now be tested for prohibited substances such as GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

“Certified agents will conduct residue inspections on at least 5 percent of the farms they certify each year.” That’s 5 out of 100 farms. Considering that here is still no threshold set for GMO contamination, if they find it, just exactly what are they going to do? If some contamination should be found, then “intentional” contamination would need to be proven before any rash steps are taken such as disallowing the food from that farm to be sold as organic.

…unlike many pesticides, there aren’t specific tolerance levels in the USDA organic regulations for GMOs. As such, National Organic Program policy states that trace amounts of GMOs don’t automatically mean the farm is in violation of the USDA organic regulations.

Rest assured, the big guys will most likely not have to worry. It is the little guys that can’t afford the added fees that will be targeted. The likes of companies such as Hain Celestials will probably get the perfunctory slap on the hand and continue on business as usual.

But lack of testing isn’t the only loophole that exists in the NOP regulations. It seems that organic feed brokers, you know, the middle men, are exempt from organic certification. Yup, they can do as they please, and all the farm-level testing in the world will not address the fact that at the broker level, feed can be intermingled because the brokers do not have to be certified.

Hidden in plain sight under an innocuous sounding title, “USDA OIG Reviews Implementation of Access to Pasture and Related Rules for Organic Dairy Cattle,” located on the FDA law blog site is the following:

“OIG [Office of the Inspector General] also identified a need for better oversight of organic feed brokers.  Currently, organic feed brokers are exempt from certification.  As a result, there is no guarantee that organic feed is not commingled with non-organic feed or contaminated.  This causes uncertainty about the “organic integrity” of the system.”

A broker is the middle man. The manufacturer produces the feed, a broker acts as an agent between manufacturer and supplier, and once the feed is obtained by the broker, well, it appears that anything goes.

So, all that “organic” feed that farmers and backyard goat milkers have been purchasing at an exorbitant price to make sure that our “organic” milk and meat is the best quality? Well, it is most likely commingled with non-organic feed by a feed broker, especially if the supplier is a large company. But again, not to worry, as the USDA plans to correct this sometime next year…. when they get around to it. Meanwhile, don’t expect the price of that comingled “organic” livestock feed to go down anytime soon. Oh, and happy munching on all that “organic” milk and meat that isn’t quite so organic, courtesy of our friends and benefactors at the USDA.

©2013 Barbara H. Peterson

Thanks to Nicole for the news tip!

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9 Responses to “The Organic Loophole – Feed Brokers’ Exemption”

  1. Irene says:

    How black mail works :
    I would qualify as a farmer. I have a canola problem and I pick and bag it . I will never be able to have an organic crop of anything as long as the invasive canola exists . The canola and the poison that did not kill it swept across my farm when the weed control board and the broker for the real estate company and the insurance company got involved on the adjoining property as land managers .
    It is a form of political abuse when the weed control board says they will sue landowners with fines for weed control problems. The very poisons mandated by the weed control board causes the weeds to re invigorate and take over . This has not only contaminated my land but put me liable to be sued by the company that patented the invasive canola . I could protect my farm from being sued by buying the canola and growing a licensed crop forever . It is a form of black mail played on land owners . That is why so many farmers finally go GMO .

  2. Deb Liguori says:

    Great article and timely for me also. We raise our own chickens and sometimes turkeys and we drive a couple of hours to get non gmo feed for them. Today my husband had a conversation with a local fellow who runs a feed mill. My husband asked him if he ever considered grinding non gmo feed. His answer was there is non available as it gets contaminated somewhere along the line. Your article gives creedence to his statement. Now we have to contact our supplier and see how pure his non gmo feed really is. I will be speaking about gmos at a gathering in a couple of weeks and I also want to get some input from farmers and why they choose gmos when they is such concern about the health effects on our health as well as on our environment.

  3. Abe says:

    I guess Pamm Larry’s grand child is in our GM chat group. When I sent out that email the other day, he sent me one back. Sounds like Pamm had been working on GMO’s and the Kosher labeling. Seems at the time of Prop 37, this was totally out of the question. Although when they do change there criteria, I do doubt that it will be organic, but wont allow GMO’s in food products. As people wake up and realize what’s wrong with chemical farming, and see the corrolation with these chemicals and food, the illnesses they cause, the only obvious choice is organic. Like it was before WWII.

    GMO’s & Health by Dr. Nancy Swanson

    I think TPTB are seeing the avalanch coming. They have 2 choices. Get out of the way, or suffocate.

  4. Irene says:

    I just spoke to my hay farmer about unpesticided hay he could sell me. He has 2 pastures of clover alfalfa that have never needed spraying because the clover grows so thick . The bales are dense , weighing 1500 or more pounds and costing over $100 each . The sprayed stuff is weed free and far more grass and grain costing 30% more per bail and probably heavier too. Who knows about the hay because roundup can linger for years chelating minerals the whole time and affecting livestock that eat it, causing mineral deficiencies. It is why we all need to give our animals specially formulated mineral in food and free choice.. Monsanto’s government is stealing our birth right..

  5. nedlud says:

    Hi everybody~

    I worked for years emphasizing the importance and relevance and the need for restoration (brought back to general use) of ‘organic’ (farming methods). For years, I had some optimism, I thought enough people might ‘get it’ and the world would benefit. I worked for years on this!

    Around or about the year 2004, I came to realize that ‘certified organic’ had become a total con job. Just another way to surcharge, to abuse and to tax and control and to regulate, and ultimately, destroy, ordinary people. Just another game for the rich bureaucracy to play and to use to make them even richer and more in control over everyone else’s lives than ever.

    I have no optimism anymore. A tiny bit of hope, but no optimism. None.

    The bureaucrats will have to go.


  6. Ter ber says:

    Thanks Barbara for the most timely and important article. Many have been wondering about this problem. I have long suspected this issue was going to turn out this way. Please everyone especially if you believe in the Bible. Check out the story of the prodigal son. When the son finally returned back to the family fold, the father was so happy in celebration he ordered the calf to be prepared for dinner. Due to lack of refrigeration they only ate animal products 3X a week. Not like the USA which eats it 3X a day. For your health enjoy God’s bounty of Veggies,fruits,legumes,grains,greens. And remember 100 calories of broccoli contain more protein than 100 calories of beef. God bless.

  7. Hi Abe,

    Be aware that not all Kosher certified products are non-GMO, as there are many certifiers, Apple K being only one of many. Therefore, only the Apple K symbol can be trusted to be non-GMO at this point unless other agencies decide to go GMO-free. Here is a link:

  8. Alan Donelson says:

    As we move along toward periods of substantial disruption — electrical, transportation, food supplies for our animals from afar — wife and I give thought to and take action on feeding our animulés from what we grow or opportunistically valuable weed-feed (e.g., Miner’s lettuce, Lamb’s quarters). Some people have implemented the scarfing up of road kill, hanging portions in sacks, letting protein-rich maggots drop for a delicious midday treat for chickens.

  9. Abe says:

    People are starting to see how deeply corrupt, and flawed our food supply is. I have to agree that people are buying something that isn’t whats claimed.
    I did see something uplifting yesterday though. Don’t now how many know about the “Kosher Tax”, but you can look at a label and see if it’s Kosher” (small circle with a “K” or a “U” in it). Don’t know exactly when, but to get the “Kosher stamp of approval” will have to be GMO free.