April 8, 2008
Mr. Robert Boggs, Director
Ohio Department of Agriculture
8995 East Main Street
Reynoldsburg, Ohio 43068
Dear Director Boggs,
On behalf of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation (OFBF), Ohio’s largest farm organization, we wish to thank you and the Ohio Department of Agriculture for responding appropriately to issues and concerns shared with you about the proposed dairy labeling rule that was announced February 7, 2008. As you know, we supported the original rule and Governor Strickland’s executive order that was also issued on February 7th. We generally support the modified rule that the Department of Agriculture re-filed on March 25, 2008. These changes actually may have made what we thought was a good rule an even better rule.
We wish to thank the Department for maintaining the spirit of the original rule with the proposed modifications, specifically:
* That “compositional absence claims” cannot be made on a dairy product label as such claims are either not provable or relate to the presence of substances which may not legally be present in milk products;
* That dairy product labels must include, along with any permissible production claim about the use of rbST, a statement regarding the United States Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) determination that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rbST-supplemented and non-rbST-supplemented cows; and
* That the FDA determination must appear contiguously to any accurate rbST production claim.
We wish to commend the Department for allowing retailers and processors to make accurate “production claims” which reflect the way a dairy product was produced. This was a major concern raised about the proposed rule by our members who own, operate and manage certified organic dairies. When properly labeled without absence claims, organic products certified for their on-farm practices regarding hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides can meet consumer demand without disparaging other products. For example, claims that milk was produced from cows not injected with antibiotics, if true, should be allowed to appear on the product label as this claim can be substantiated through participation in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) certified organic program for which a third-party audit will verify compliance.
Additionally, the modified rule now provides processors and retailers adequate time (120 days plus the 90-day time period in Governor Strickland’s executive order) to come into compliance with the rule. This simply makes good business sense.
Once again, we wish to thank the Department of Agriculture and Governor Strickland for issuing the proposed rule and executive order on February 7th. We appreciate the opportunity provided to us to make comments about the modified/re-filed rule that we hope the Department will positively consider.
John C. Fisher