Organic Trade Association applauds passage of Food Safety reform

Integrity of organic practices protected in final bill

Contact: Barbara Haumann (802-275-3820,

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 21, 2010)—The Organic Trade Association (OTA) today applauded Congress for finally passing the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act that will help tighten food safety oversight while also including provisions to protect organic farmers and producers from costly duplicative requirements.

“As an early supporter of food safety reform, OTA is pleased that this critically needed legislation will provide greater consumer protection from food-borne illness, and is crafted to protect organic producers from duplicative trace-back and record-keeping systems, or any requirements that would violate National Organic Standards,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director and CEO.

The legislation, originally passed Nov. 30 by the Senate in a 72-to-25 bipartisan vote, first cleared the House of Representatives as an addition to its Continuing Resolution for funding the federal government without a new appropriations bill in place. When Senators were unable to pass an identical bill, they subsequently approved food safety by unanimous consent as a stand-alone measure on Dec. 19. The stand-alone bill, which cleared the House today, maintains language which OTA had sought that prevents regulations forcing certified organic operations to duplicate or conflict with requirements set by the Organic Food Production Act.

Taking the lead on this language were Representatives Marcy Kaptur of Ohio and Sam Farr of California in the House, and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee in the Senate. Specifically, the legislation prevents any regulations that would force organic operations to use prohibited materials or practices, such as irradiation, as identified by the National Organic Program.

The legislation also includes resources and guidance for technical assistance, sponsored by Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, to be provided through the states and local governments for operations that will be subject to the new law—provisions which OTA had also supported. In addition, it includes language offered by Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio to amend the traceability and record-keeping section of the bill to allow for food directly marketed from farmers to consumers or to grocery stores and food labeled with the identity of the farm which produced it. That amendment also prevents the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from requiring any farm to keep records beyond the first point of sale when the product leaves the farm, except when farms co-mingle product from multiple farms.

Fully supporting an improved food safety system, OTA is especially pleased that members of Congress recognized that steps taken by organic producers align with the goals of food safety reform, including business registration, record keeping and audits, and inspection requirements.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members.