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New USDA Appointment - Organics Has a New Boss

by: Jill Richardson

Tue May 12, 2009 at 09:42:36 AM PDT


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Rayne Pegg has been named as the Administrator of the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Among other things, AMS administers the National Organic Program.

I don't have much info on her besides what you see below in the USDA's press release. However, based on that information, I'm not a fan. She's got two strikes against her. One is her participation in the WTO and free trade negotiations. Maybe it was just her job and it doesn't mean that she's pro-free trade. I don't know. It's an area where I'll be looking for more information, and that's probably all I can say for now.

The second strike is the California Leafy Greens Product Handler Marketing Agreement. This was one of the stupidest, most counterproductive, idiotic "food safety" reforms ever made. The basic idea was to attempt to make farm fields sterile like hospitals and laboratories. Here's an excerpt from a statement by the Cornucopia Institute about the Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement:

[In California] farmers have been asked to take extreme measures with little or no scientific justification. While the rules themselves do not directly eliminate biodiversity on farms, they discourage wildlife and vegetation. As a result, some large produce buyers, such as processors, supermarkets and fast food chains, are using those rules as a precedent to come up with their own standards-often extreme measures without scientific backup.

For example, farmers have been told to destroy hedgerows and other non-crop vegetation around farms that provide important habitat for beneficial wildlife, and to erect fences around their fields, which negatively impacts wildlife corridors. Such measures have not been shown to eliminate or reduce the likelihood of E. coli contamination. "We know natural vegetation surrounding farm fields, which is excellent habitat for birds and beneficial insects, reduces dependence on chemical pesticides and decreases possible ground- and surface-water contamination," Vallaeys stated.

Many growing practices that are the cornerstone of organic and sustainable agriculture would also be discouraged or banned.  In California, the rules discourage the development of microbial life in the soil, an outcome that has not been shown to reduce the risk of harmful bacterial contamination. In fact, sustainable farming methods, which promote healthy microbial life in soil, have been shown to reduce E. coli 0157, a deadly variant of the microbe, because the organism has to compete with other microbes and is therefore less likely to thrive.

Farmers already report demands by large corporate buyers not to use certain organic fertilizers. "The aim of these rules seems to promote sterile fields that support few forms of life, except for the leafy greens," added Vallaeys.

After the fact, it was shown that the vast majority of wild animals shot in the name of safe leafy greens were not carrying E. coli 0157:H7 anyway, and posed no danger to safe food. Let's hope this is not they type of "reform" Pegg brings to the USDA.

Jill Richardson :: New USDA Appointment - Organics Has a New Boss
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Names Rayne Pegg as Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service

WASHINGTON, May 11, 2009 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the appointment of Rayne Pegg as Administrator of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service. The agency is part of USDA's Marketing and Regulatory Programs mission area which works to ensure a productive and competitive global and domestic marketplace for U.S. agricultural products. Pegg will begin serving in this role in early July.

"Rayne Pegg brings years of experience to USDA from her work on agricultural issues both as a distinguished public servant and in the non-profit community," said Vilsack. "Rayne's background makes her the ideal person to further the development of programs to ensure efficient, fair marketing of U.S. agricultural products as we work to meet the needs of consumers and industries and provide a safe, sustainable food supply for all Americans."

Pegg most recently served as the Deputy Secretary of Legislation and Policy for the California Department of Food and Agriculture. In this role, she was the principle advisor to both the Secretary of the Department and the cabinet of the Governor of California on the Department's legislative and policy issues. Pegg represented the Department before the California legislature, regulating bodies and interested parties on issues potentially impacting the Department's programs. She has worked with growers and the public to find common ground and reach agreement on controversial issues. She also worked on legislation and public policy that address: invasive species, the Farm Bill, the Department's budget, organic production, food safety, farmers markets, government oversight, and trade barriers.

As an advocate with the California Farm Bureau Federation, Pegg analyzed California agriculture's foreign market opportunities and competition and participated in the World Trade Organization and US-Korea FTA negotiations. She has worked with USDA to resolve phytosanitary barriers that restrict the movement of California products to foreign and domestic markets. In addition, Pegg was previously appointed to the USDA, Agricultural Trade Advisory Committee on Fruits and Vegetables. Pegg was also a principle in the creation of the California Leafy Green Product Handler Marketing Agreement, which was established in response to the spinach E. coli outbreak in 2006.

Pegg earned her BA in Psychology from the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. On a personal level, she is a mentor for Wonder Inc., a support network for foster children.

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Connie Culp (4.00 / 1)
Thank you for informing us. It's really funny that you've said that Organic had a new boss. My hope is whoever the newly boss; will be more concern on how this organic is used in proper ways. In relation to public awareness, not many people had heard of Connie Culp.  She is the subject of talk now, because Connie Culp is the recipient of the first face transplant performed on a woman in the U.S.  The first ever face transplant was Isabelle Dinoire, French women whose face was disfigured by the family dog (the intent of the pooch is a subject of debate) and undergo the procedure, and costs lot more than an online cash advance.  Connie's face was blasted off by her deranged ex-husband that's why she got a face transplant, and he got sent to the big house, but it was worth the installment loans for Connie Culp, as she can now breathe, talk, and eat on her own. So to those people who disfigurement and don't look as pretty as you do, don't judge them, because you never know what happened to them. Don't judge people who don't look the beautiful in your eyes, because you never know. One day it might be all taken away.

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