Letter: No need to create USDA sustainability standard

09/21/2012 09:22:00 AM
Alyssa Houtby

Perhaps transparency, not necessarily labeling, has been the fuel driving the organic train.

There is no doubt that, collectively, conventional agriculture has a history of a shut-door policy in consumer outreach, which has allowed adversaries such as the Environmental Working Group on the produce side and the likes of PETA on the animal-agriculture side to gain momentum.

But is a sustainable label a way for conventional agriculture to become more favorable to consumers and narrow the perceived difference between organic and conventionally grown produce?

Or will it result in increased pressure from retailers at the financial burden of the grower?

I would argue the latter.

This is simply another opportunity for government, activists and consumers to dictate how farmers farm.

There is enough “producer baby-sitting” going on in the regulatory world without adding a “voluntary” standard to comply with as well.

Let the marketers stick a label on the package if they see value.

Don’t subject the grower to the copious amount of paperwork and fees to comply with a standard that will inevitably be hijacked by activists anyway.

Why feed into activist demands and perpetuate the issue? It’s anyone’s guess what their next demand will be.


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Rod Milton    
Parlier, Ca.  |  September, 22, 2012 at 07:19 AM

Alyssa's reply is excellent - 'Why feed into activist demands and perpetuate the issue? It’s anyone’s guess what their next demand will be.'- sums it up well. The retailer has been only too willing to broker the the demands of these activists against producers and shows NO sign of letting up. Isn't it worth considering a collective push-back to retail on the never ending demands they bring to producers? Think for a moment the power of the retailer on the diet of the consumer. The retailer choses each week what items they will run on ad. Does fresh produce have equal billing to sodas and beer? Does the produce of mom and pop apple packers of central Oregon have equal access to end cap displays as the products of Mars, or Hostess companies. What are retailers doing to reduce the store's retail ring of Phillip Morris products and increase the ring of Sunkist? What are retailers doing to encourage children's consumption of fresh fruit and veg and reduce their intake of obesity-linked sodas and candy? What do their ad prices and displays reflect in that regard? The saw cuts both ways on the sustainablity issue' I'm not really wanting to go down the road of retaliation on retail produce but production produce needs to wake up and consider Alyssa's closing point- 'It REALLY is anyone's guess what the next demand will be'.

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