Chickens Coming Home to Roost
It was the ultimate in pork-barrel politics, except it happened to concern chickens. Earlier this month, the U.S. Congress passed its omnibus spending bill — which included a provision wedged in by Rep. Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) on behalf of Fieldale Farms, a Georgia chicken-processing company that contributed $4,000 toward Deal’s election. The provision allows farmers to bill meat, eggs, and dairy products as organic even if the livestock was raised on nonorganic feed. The loosened standard has come under fire almost across the board; opponents range from citizens and environmentalists to corporate food producers seeking to protect the commercial viability of the burgeoning organics business. Heeding the call of these critics, Republican and Democratic lawmakers announced new legislation yesterday to protect the organic standard; they also promised to form a caucus to keep an eye on issues important to the organic food industry.