A new report by the United Nations has added credence to the view that sustainable grazing and pasture management can significantly contribute to the fight against global climate change. Entitled, "Review on Evidence on Dryland Pastoral Systems and Climate Change," this paper offers much-needed discussion about the role that pasture can play in our efforts to mitigate carbon emissions and preserve these important carbon-sequestering ecosystems. Pasturelands are under increasing pressure from development, salinization, overgrazing and transition to annual cropping for grain production (much of which goes to livestock feed). However, if properly managed they represent a carbon sink that could be even greater than forests.
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. Schweigert 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. Schweigert 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.”