USDA Objects To Sustainability Standards Movement

The wheels are in motion toward the establishment of a national standard for sustainable agriculture, but USDA recently spoke out against the potential impact of the proposed standard and the process that will create it in a letter to Leonardo Academy President Michael Arny. OFA revealed the letter in a recent e-bulletin.

USDA Deputy Secretary Charles F. Conner wrote the letter to Arny, arguing inconsistencies exist between the proposed draft standard and United States domestic and international policies.

“The wording of the law indicates a broad definition of sustainable agriculture, recognizing sustainability can be achieved by employing various methodologies and practices,” Connor wrote. “The definition is intentionally broad and does not exclude particular practices or technology that may contribute to achieving that sustainability.

“We believe that standards developed for U.S. agriculture, whether public or private, need to be consistent with U.S. laws and policies.”

Connor also wrote USDA has always supported the development of standards when they’re properly developed in an inclusive and balanced process that accounts for all affected stakeholders. USDA will not, however, support the drafting process used by Leonardo Academy.

The first meeting of the standards committee, meanwhile, has been moved from September 10 to September 25 and 26. Committee members will meet for a full day on the 25th and a half day on the 26th.

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4 comments on “USDA Objects To Sustainability Standards Movement

  1. Less than 100 years ago some 70% of our population was involved in some aspect of agribusiness. We now comprise a tiny minority of less than 2%.Unless the majority of Americans wish to return to an agrarian lifestyle, sustainability concerns must be balanced by making sure that we will be allowed to use the technology required to produce the crops that will allow that 2% to “feed the world”. We live in an agricultural community, yet my son’s community college environmental science professor stated that “farmers use tractors because they like to have an easy way of making a living”. She continued to say “they should return to organic production and farm with horses instead, since it is better for the environment”. I agree that we need to be concerned about preserving our environmental resources, yet I’m sure she wouldn’t dream of giving up her car to ride to a horse. The Leonardo Academy has drafted sustainability standards which would be defined according to current organic production standards, excluding much of the modern technology we use to produce our crops. Just as the college professor who would take away the technology a farmer uses to provide a livelihood for his family, but would consider technology which impacts her more directly to be “essential”, I feel those drafting the standards lack a clear understanding of the role of technology in achieving our high standard of living based on modern agricultural production. I believe that is why you have been encouraging people in our industry to become involved in the Sustainability standards process, so THANK YOU for your efforts, and THANK YOU to USDA for speaking up about the impact of such sustainability standards on American agriculture.
    Although my comments may seem more concerned with agricultural food production, ornamental horticulture is just as vital, as every flower, bush or tree planted contributes to the health and well-being of our planet.

  2. Less than 100 years ago some 70% of our population was involved in some aspect of agribusiness. We now comprise a tiny minority of less than 2%.Unless the majority of Americans wish to return to an agrarian lifestyle, sustainability concerns must be balanced by making sure that we will be allowed to use the technology required to produce the crops that will allow that 2% to “feed the world”. We live in an agricultural community, yet my son’s community college environmental science professor stated that “farmers use tractors because they like to have an easy way of making a living”. She continued to say “they should return to organic production and farm with horses instead, since it is better for the environment”. I agree that we need to be concerned about preserving our environmental resources, yet I’m sure she wouldn’t dream of giving up her car to ride to a horse. The Leonardo Academy has drafted sustainability standards which would be defined according to current organic production standards, excluding much of the modern technology we use to produce our crops. Just as the college professor who would take away the technology a farmer uses to provide a livelihood for his family, but would consider technology which impacts her more directly to be “essential”, I feel those drafting the standards lack a clear understanding of the role of technology in achieving our high standard of living based on modern agricultural production. I believe that is why you have been encouraging people in our industry to become involved in the Sustainability standards process, so THANK YOU for your efforts, and THANK YOU to USDA for speaking up about the impact of such sustainability standards on American agriculture.
    Although my comments may seem more concerned with agricultural food production, ornamental horticulture is just as vital, as every flower, bush or tree planted contributes to the health and well-being of our planet.

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