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    Congress to reverse loosening of organic standards

    President Bush is expected to sign into law today a measure that will repeal a controversial revision to federal organic food standards that would have allowed producers to raise their livestock on conventional feed but still label the meat organic.

    President Bush is expected to sign into law today a measure that will repeal a controversial revision to federal organic food standards that would have allowed producers to raise their livestock on conventional feed but still label the meat organic.

    As part of the $80 billion war spending bill, Congress reversed a loosening of organic food standards that would have benefited Baldwin, Ga.-based Fieldale Farms. The loophole was crafted by Rep. Nathan Deal, (R-Ga.), whose district includes Fieldale Farms. The company sought Deal's help, citing what it said was a scarcity of affordable organic chicken feed.

    The Supplemental Appropriations Bill approved by both the House of Representatives and Senate included an amendment repealing the offending language that, in effect, allowed organic livestock producers to feed their animals less than 100 percent organic feed and still market the resulting meat, dairy and poultry products as organic, provided the wholesale price of organic feed was more than twice the cost of its conventional counterpart.

    Deal's legislation caused an outcry from a coalition of some food producers, farmers and environmentalists, including the Organic Trade Association, its members, associated groups, and consumers.

    "Congress has done the right thing," said Katherine DiMatteo, executive director of the Organic Trade Association "The organic industry and consumers can breathe a sigh of relief and rejoice that this issue has been put to bed in a timely fashion. It truly was a bad egg, but legislators now have disposed of it. We truly hope legislators have learned that we will not stand by when anyone tries to undermine organic standards by resorting to backroom deals."

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