Petitioning the King, Organic Rules and Good Old Uncle Sam

As the growth of organic foods has created larger and larger corporate interest in the market, the traditional dance between the regulators, the regulated has gained increased scrutiny from various watchdog groups. 

Of course the dynamic driving these efforts is as old as time. The search for favoritism from rulers goes back to the days of the Roman Empire. Of course in a democracy it is hoped that policy be decided in a rational, fair application of the rules. If only that were so.

Yet while the seeking favors from the Emperor or petitioning the king has been replaced by lobbying politicians and influencing bureaucrats, current changes to rules regulating organic livestock suggest that at least this time around the process has worked.

Now attention has turned to enforcement of the new rules, something the Los Angeles Times notes has critics watching closely.

It’s worth remembering that the current rules were the result of more than a decade of hard work from folks who cared about creating national standards to promote more sustainable agriculture. And these same people are still fighting the fight.

Of course other issues, most notably whether rules favor large scale operators over small farms, continue to enter the ongoing fracas over the USDA’s role as the overseer of organic integrity. But these valuable efforts need to be viewed separately, at least until lobbying rules or human nature changes direction.


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