Actually, Kathleen Merrigan is the new Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, not the new organic sheriff. Regardless of the title, there is real hope in this agency choice. It looks like Food Democracy Now’s “Sustainable Dozen” petition drive to influence positive change at the USDA has paid off.
Following up on my organic food post of a couple of days ago, I felt this information was important to share with you. Kathleen Merrigan is currently the director of the Agriculture, Food, and Environment Program at Tufts University near Boston. As a staff member on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, she was instrumental in developing the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which created national standards for organic food. She also served as administrator of the USDA Agriculture Marketing Service from 1999 to 2001, overseeing the agency’s organic food program.
Right now there are lots of loopholes in food standards, a lack of uniformity in marketing and label claims, and consumer confusion over food definitions (grass-fed, natural, raised without antibiotics, etc.). Hopefully Kathleen can help clarify standards, promote sustainable food systems, support organic farmers, and fight the good food fight. Go Kathleen!
Stay tuned, more to come on food policy, hope and change.