Obama Aims To Increase Promotion Of Organics

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(Host) President Obama wants to increase spending on the promotion of organic agriculture, and the enforcement of standards for what qualifies as organic.

While many areas of federal government are slated for spending cuts, the administration proposed a 44 percent increase on the organic program.

Deputy U.S. Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan says a lot of the money will be spent to make sure foods that are labeled "organic" or "natural" follow the standards.

(Merrigan) "There’s no one who can say, ‘Oh, I didn’t know, you’re catching me off guard.’ This is the age of enforcement. That’s why we want to beef up the enforcement staff. We want to get out there, not just looking at our certifying agents, our farms, but also at retail establishments to see if they’re actually helping and make sure that consumers are getting what they deserve when they’re paying those extra premiums."

(Host) Senator Patrick Leahy helped to write the law governing what qualifies as organic. He welcomed the president’s proposal to increase spending.

(Leahy) "Unless you’re enforcing the rules, then they create a problem for everybody else. I just want the rules enforced. Not trying to play gotcha. But I just want to make that everybody plays by the same rules."

(Host) The Obama administration says there also will be an effort to work with other countries to make sure that imported agricultural products that are labeled organic also follow the rules.

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