Farmers’ Group Sues USDA Over Who Should Be Able To Determine What Is Organic

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Busted! Tom Vilsack and USDA Sued Over Appointing Ridiculously Underqualified Corporate Stooges To Organics Board.

We’ve long known about the government/corporate revolving door, through which countless corporate shills procure themselves government appointments for a period of time, during which they oversee regulation of their areas of expertise.

During these times of “service to their country,” these paragons of selflessness tweak and alter and change regulations as they apply to their former employers–interestingly and no doubt coincidentally, often in ways that benefit their former employers.

And after a year or two, they go right back to working in the sector they came from, often at the very same company they left, and usually at a hefty jump in pay.

Well, a group of organic farmers is calling out the practice in court, as allegedly practiced by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.

The Cornucopia Institute, an agricultural education public interest group made up of thousands of farmers and consumers filed the complaint against Vilsack and the USDA, accusing the defendants of “appointing unqualified individuals to the National Organics Standards Board,” a 15-member committee tasked with advising the USDA how to apply the Organic Food Production Act.

The nuts and bolts of it are that the board is where the decisions as to what synthetic and natural substances can be labeled “organic.” And the Cornucopia Institute has taken issue with the perceived cavalier manner with which that label is applied.

“The American people have a right to trust that food certified as organic is free of inappropriate or inadequately reviewed synthetic substances that do not comport with the [Organic Foods Production Act] OFPA,” the complaint reads. “USDA has failed this responsibility and has shirked its legal obligations by appointing individuals to the [National Organic Standards Board] NOSB that violate the [Organic Foods Production Act’s] OFPA’s board composition requirements.”

And we’re not just talking about a bunch of hippie cranks embittered over some obscure labeling grievance. Organic food is huge business right now, and it is only growing, especially in the face of all the ongoing chemical and GMO shenanigans we are seeing. The complaint alleges that instead of appointing a farmer to an open seat on the board as is mandated, USDA and Vilsack instead appointed Carmela Beck, a woman who works as a “liaison” for giant berry corporation Driscoll’s. another dubious appointee was Ashley Swaffar, a corporate compliance officer at the Arkansas Egg Company.

Again, these kinds of shady appointments that go against the very reason for these kinds of oversight boards are nothing new, nor are they likely to stop. But at least this lawsuit can shine a light on a very ugly part of how government works against the very people it is supposed to serve and in favor of big money.

If you like organic food–or “food” as our grandparents called it, write to Secretary Vilsack and demand that he appoint actual organic farmers and not corporate stooges to the board that oversees organic food.

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