cows in field

Action Alerts, June 2013


Call your senators now to tell them to
“Strike Out the amendment that will establish an organic check-off program”

Starting on Monday May 20th the full Senate will discuss the 2013 Farm Bill as recommended by the Senate Ag Committee
Title V11: Bennet 04-1 organic promotion amendment

If you have a relationship with your Senator, you can ask them to sponsor a floor amendment to take the Organic Promotion Check-Off Amendment out of the bill.

Call Your Senators’ offices and ask to speak to the Staff who deals with agriculture –


  • Tell them Your name, Your Farm name, Location and What you Farm
  • Tell them that you and many organic farmers--as well as small businesses that make and market organically certified product and consumers--do not want an organic Promotion check-off program!
  • Tell them that The Organic Promotion Check-Off Program needs to be taken out of the bill until there has been a complete process to consider whether organic farmers want it.
  • Organic farmers do not want a federally mandated organic check-off program
  • They do not trust it and They do not see it as beneficial to organic agriculture or their sustainability
  • OTA does not represent YOUR interests

Congress expects that once the Farm Bill is passed with this amendment attached to it, an Organic check-off program will be established.

For more information on the organic check-off please go to: NODPA Checkoff

If you need information on how to contact your senators please go to:

OR Call the Congressional Switchboard, and ask to be transferred to your Senator’s office (if you give them your state, they will tell you who your 2 senators are): 202-224-3121

February 2011
NODPA supports the National Organic Coalition's position on de-regulation

Prior to any de-regulation of new genetically-engineered crops, A GE contamination plan is essential to protect all non-GM crops. At a minimum, the following 7 points must be addressed transparently and fairly (for all stakeholders involved):

  1. Establish a USDA Public Breeds Institute to ensure that the public has access to high quality non-GMO breeds and germplasm.
  2. Create a Contamination Compensation Fund, funded by GMO patent holders, to provide immediate assistance to persons contaminated by GMOs, from seed to table.
  3. Complete elimination of deregulated GM crop status, including prior deregulations, with on-going oversight and public evaluation of compliance and enforcement.
  4. Conduct comprehensive, independent, longitudinal studies on the health, environmental, and socio-economic impacts of GMOs, prior to GM crop approvals.
  5. Prohibit the growing of promiscuous GM crops that are likely to cause GMO contamination.
  6. Prevent food security risks associated with the concentration of our food system in the hands of a few companies.
  7. Institute an immediate labeling protocol for all GM crops, products, and ingredients.
GMO ALFALFA News, Facts & Resources

For background on the GE Alfalfa issue, see NODPA's own article.

December 2008: Support Strong Rules for Organic Pasture

March 28, 2008

Stop the Attack on Public Health and the Environment in the Farm Bill
Proposed Farm Bill language would restrict USDA’s ability to prohibit the use of pesticides in certain conservation programs.

Action: Stop Congress from undermining USDA’s ability through its conservation programs to (i) curtail dangerous pesticides that exceed safety thresholds or have not been fully tested, and (ii) advance the transition to organic production and land management.

Issue: USDA should retain its discretionary authority to restrict or prohibit specific classes of pesticides as a condition for participating in conservation programs. Language now on the table in current Farm Bill negotiations: “The Secretary shall not prohibit the use of specific registered pesticides or classes of pesticides as a pre-condition for participation in programs under that [conservation] subtitle,” known as the Goodlatte pesticide amendment, named for its original sponsor, minority leader in the House Agriculture Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA).

Threat: Conferees to the Farm Bill (Democrat and Republican Senators and Representatives from the Agriculture Committees of Congress who are negotiating the final Farm Bill language, see list below) are considering an amendment to Section 1244 of the Food Security Act of 1985 (16 U.S.C. 3844) that would prohibit USDA from exercising its authority to restrict specific pesticides in its conservation programs.

Time Frame: Conferees are debating this issue now and intend to resolve it in the next week or two. They have already agreed in part to some language that will tie the Secretary of Agriculture’s hands in seeking to address contamination of air, land and water and coordinating conservation programs with the organic certification statute, the Organic Foods Production Act.

Background: The authority of USDA to restrict usage of specific pesticides when necessary, under its conservation title is critical to long-term sustainability in agriculture, forestry, wildlife and wetlands management, essential in assisting agricultural producers to meet the standards of numerous federal statutes (Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act and others), and imperative as the department carries out its responsibility to assist in the transition to organic management systems.

Scientific research increasingly identifies the need to advance management practices that seek to avoid or limit the use of registered pesticides that are contaminating air, land, and water, in many cases now at elevated levels that raise concern for human health, wildlife and the environment. For example, ongoing U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) research findings of contamination of the nation’s waterways with pesticides have led to strategic initiatives, such as the intergovernmental Chesapeake Bay Project, which has developed a coordinated strategic plan to achieve a “toxics free Bay to improve conditions for aquatic-dependent wildlife.” Nationwide, the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program found in its report Pesticides in the Nation’s Streams and Groundwater (2006) that more than half of all agricultural streams and more than three-quarters of all urban streams have pesticide contamination that exceeds acceptable standards for aquatic life. Human health standards are exceeded in about 10 percent of agricultural and 7 percent of urban streams. In addition, drinking water standards have not been developed for 36 of the 83 pesticides and degradates found by NAWQA.

If USDA is to play a role in meeting the goals in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, as well as other watersheds across the country, the department most certainly may have to consider some restrictions of specific pesticide contaminants in the disbursement of its conservation program dollars. To not do so would undermine USDA’s role in conservation and put it at odds with its statutory authority to advance organic and integrated pest management systems in response to widening environmental and human health problems.

There are numerous examples where USDA may need to utilize this authority to support methods that implicitly or explicitly seek to reduce contaminants that are adversely affecting the environment and, in the process, ensure continued agricultural viability. In addressing contamination through conservation programs, USDA may disburse funds and stipulate production methods, such as organic or integrated pest management, that eliminate or reduce certain contaminants. In the past, for example, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) in some cases has utilized its payments to support the transition to certified organic production systems, thus allowing only those pesticides permitted under the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) and prohibiting those substances not listed as acceptable. Under OFPA, “The Secretary shall establish a National List of approved and prohibited substances that shall be included in the standards for organic production…”

Under the Clean Air Act and the Montreal Protocol, an international treaty, Congress has restricted ozone depleters in an effort to curtail global warming. To assist agricultural producers in making the shift to alternatives, the department has the authority to limit the use of methyl bromide in its conservation programs and in so doing facilitate the transition to environmentally sound practices. Here again, organic practices can help lead the way in addressing conservation practices.

February, 2008

President’s Bush’s proposed budget threatens to
axe nation’s leading pasture lab

February, 2008. The Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit at University Park, Pennsylvania, is slated to close in order to meet proposed budget reductions.

The President’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget for ARS represents a net decrease of 7.5 percent from the current year funding. Unless Congress acts to restore the $4.42 million allocation in support of the University Park location, the entire research program will be terminated and all 45 scientist and support staff positions will be abolished.

The research program at University Park develops profitable and sustainable animal, crop, and bioenergy producing enterprises while maintaining the quality of ground and surface waters. The loss of this research unit would end cutting edge research on nutrient management, forage and grazing land management, water quality, integrated farming systems, and bioenergy cropping systems for the northeastern U.S.

Flat funding, inflationary and rising research costs, along with aging facilities have been the reasons cited for the closure of research units. The loss of this unique program will be a direct blow for organic and sustainable livestock production. The work of Kathy Soder and others have seen tremendous advances in managing pasture and evaluating its nutrient quality.

Senator Specter serves on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee that funds USDA, and will be fighting to keep the lab open and funded through the Subcommittee. The Subcommittee will begin to work on USDA funding for FY09 in the upcoming months.

They need massive numbers of letters of support for this effort.

Find all files related to this subject here