Merrigan releases ‘critical to do’ list for organics
Kathleen Merrigan, the former agriculture deputy secretary who is considered the author of the 1990 Organic Foods Production Act that established the organic program at USDA and set standards for organic foods, today, June 17, released a report titled “The Critical To Do List for Organic Agriculture.”
Merrigan is now executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University and released the report from the Swette Center. Debra Eschmeyer, who headed then-First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move program and now works with Merrigan, said Merrigan wrote the report as part of her duties at the Swette Center, but that the Natural Resources Defense Council is funding a larger report that will be issued in the fall.
The report includes 46 recommendations for President Biden, with that number chosen as a “fun contrivance” because he is the 46th president, Merrigan wrote in an introduction to the report.
The recommendations range from implementing an organic agenda in every USDA division and implementing animal welfare and origin-of-livestock rules to asking the International Trade Commission to develop more codes to fully understand the import and export of organic goods here in the U.S.
“The majority of these recommendations could be accomplished almost immediately, as the U.S. Department of Agriculture has the power to carry out many of the needed actions we identify within existing statutory authority and, in many cases, within existing budgets. Some might refer to such recommendations as ‘low-hanging fruit,’” Merrigan said in the report. “Other recommendations require new money, necessitating action by the appropriations and/or authorizing committees in Congress. Still others require passage of new law by Congress, and the timing for new legislative proposals is good, given that policymakers are introducing bills to seed ideas for the 2023 farm bill. Bottom line: With reasonable effort, these 46 recommendations are attainable in the near future.”
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