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Yet another article highlights the importance of consumer engagement in food labeling. According to LancasterOnline.com's Mary Beth Schweigert, lack of oversight in National Organic Program has created a "chasm between consumer expectations and actual industry practices." Ms. Schwigert notes the challenges that the NOP, now in its twelfth year, faces in terms of its dual mission to protect agriculture while simultaneously protecting the consumer. The NOP has drawn significant criticism on its lax pasture requirements - 80,000 public comments to be exact. However, even adequate standards are only as good as the enforcement behind them. Schwigert reports a startlingly low number of citations in the first seven years of the program - only $20,000 for three fraudulent operators in a $23 billion U.S. organic food industry. National Organic Coalition (an industry watchdog group) policy coordinator Liana Hoodes responded to this issue, explaining that strong national organic regulations are worthless without consistent oversight and enforcement. She added, "It will either clean up its act or get surpassed by many other labels."
Upcoming Event: Animal Welfare Approved to Attend 6th Annual American Grassfed Association Conference
We are excited to attend the 6th annual American Grassfed Association Conference! The conference runs from February 6-7, and will be held at in Lexington, Kentucky. Acclaimed author and sustainable agriculture guru Wendell Berry will give the keynote address, followed by Dr. Lee Myer of the University of Kentucky who will discuss successful economic strategies for alternative ranching practices. Animal Welfare Approved has recently announced a partnership with the American Grassfed Association (AGA) through which farmers meeting both organizations' standards may receive both accreditations through one audit. These complementary accreditations will help differentiate farmers from those using only the USDA-defined "grassfed" label, which still allows feedlot confinement and growth hormones. Animal Welfare Approved Program Director Andrew Gunther and American Grassfed Association Director Don Davis will lead a workshop on obtaining these two seals, and walk farmers through the audit and certification process.