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Organic Standards At A Crossroads

Courtesy: NOFA-VT

Are Organic Standards working?

We talk with Maddie Kempner, membership and advocacy coordinator with NOFA-VT, to answer this question. We’ll also hear from Pete Johnson, owner of Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury and Jesse McDougall of Studio Hill Farm in Shaftsbury. Hill helped author a bill on  regenerative agriculture currently before the Vermont Senate.

When federal organic standards were implemented 15 years ago, the idea was to take a patchwork of rules and make them consistent across the country, so consumers knew what they were getting when they purchased organic products.

But organic farmers were concerned that having the federal government assume responsibility for setting the standards would allow large agriculture interests exert too much influence over the rules and their enforcement.  

Now many feel those fears have been realized through the approval of soil-less, hydroponic growing and the certification of huge chicken and dairy farms where animals have limited access to pasture.  There are also concerns that the government isn’t properly inspecting certified operations, allowing non-organic products to be labeled as organic.

In light of these issues, some are calling for the creation of separate or additional labels go beyond the organic standards.

Broadcast live Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017 at noon, and rebroadcast at 7 p.m.

Steve has been with VPR since 1994, first serving as host of VPR’s public affairs program and then as a reporter, based in Central Vermont. Many VPR listeners recognize Steve for his special reports from Iran, providing a glimpse of this country that is usually hidden from the rest of the world. Prior to working with VPR, Steve served as program director for WNCS for 17 years, and also worked as news director for WCVR in Randolph. A graduate of Northern Arizona University, Steve also worked for stations in Phoenix and Tucson before moving to Vermont in 1972. Steve has been honored multiple times with national and regional Edward R. Murrow Awards for his VPR reporting, including a 2011 win for best documentary for his report, Afghanistan's Other War.
The Vermont Statehouse is often called the people’s house. I am your eyes and ears there. I keep a close eye on how legislation could affect your life; I also regularly speak to the people who write that legislation.
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