Dear editor:

The July 16 article “Organic: It Means Whatever the Feds Say It Does” provided an excellent discussion of the challenges facing the National Organic Program. Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT) was one of many voices that day that called on the USDA to rescind the directives, which we felt undermined the integrity of the organic program.

At an average growth rate of 20 percent per year, the organic industry has become very appealing to large agribusinesses trying to cash in on a booming market. However, unlike the small family farms that started the organic movement, some large businesses want the standards lowered to make market entry easier (and more profitable).

The USDA must work with the National Organic Standards Board to develop and maintain clearly defined standards that keep the bar high. In addition, the USDA should follow policy protocol for government agencies by providing the opportunity for public input.

FACT continues to work with consumer groups and sustainable-agriculture organizations to strengthen the National Organic Program. Clearly defined standards protect the integrity of the organic label and maintain consumer confidence. They also protect a market niche vital to the survival of smaller family farms, key players in maintaining a sustainable agricultural system.

Kathleen R. Seus

Farm program manager

Food Animal Concerns Trust, Inc.