12.01.11

Leahy Hails Naming Of Vermont’s Jean Richardson To National Organic Standards Board

(THURSDAY, Dec. 1) -- Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Thursday that a Vermont maple producer and rural development and environmental policy expert has been named to the advisory board that helps set standards for organic agriculture and products.

Leahy said University of Vermont emeritus professor Jean Richardson will assume the consumer/public interest slot on the 15-member National Organic Standards Board, which has a key role in the national organic standards and labeling program, established in 1990 through Leahy’s Organic Food Production Act.  The congressionally mandated panel is responsible for making recommendations about whether substances should be allowed or barred in organic production or handling and helps develop national organic standards.

She is one of five new members appointed to the board for five-year terms that begin in January.

Richardson is professor emerita of natural resources, environmental studies and geography at UVM.  She is also a maple syrup producer, an organic inspector and a consultant on rural development, agriculture and environmental issues.

“Jean Richardson will bring to the board a hands-on understanding of organic agriculture and a broad background in rural economies and sustainable development,” said Leahy, who had recommended her to U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  Richardson was nominated by Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross. “The National Organic Standards Board must be objective, credible, science-based and able to translate its work into achievable policy outcomes.  Dr. Richardson has strength and relevant experience on each of these fronts, and I am proud that another Vermonter is taking yet another leading role in organic policy.”  The Organic Trade Association last year moved its national headquarters to Brattleboro, in part because of Vermont’s long and early leadership in organics.

Leahy noted that organic agriculture and consumer interest in organic products continues to grow, with sales reaching $26.5 billion in 2009.

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