Wisconsin organic farmers pleased with USDA crackdown on false advertising

Eau Claire, WI (WEAU) -- The U.S. Dairy Administration is cracking down on false advertising of organic foods. With Wisconsin ranked number one in organic dairy and beef operations, some area farmers say the changes are a big deal.

"It's certainly an investment in the type of work you're doing. If you believe in it, and take that step, you should be protected from false advertising and misleading advertising in the market," says co-founder of The Cornucopia Institute, an organic watchdog organization, Will Fantle.

The USDA says it will start cracking down on false advertising of organic food products. Fantle has been pushing for this ruling for the past four years.

He says, "We want to make sure that those who are doing this right that are faithfully following the sport and that letter of the law are rewarded."

The announcement is making waves among Wisconsin farmers like owner of Coon Creek Family Farm Julie Maro.

"It's certainly doesn't seem fair to both us and our customers, because when we put out our product with our organic certification, that's our promise to our customers that we're actually growing organically. So, when somebody uses the organic label without the actual certification behind it, to me that's not being honest with the consumer," says Maro.

Maro has been an organic certified member with the USDA since 2005, saying "The reason we became certified organic is it’s the way of farming that we really believe in it for our own family, and subsequently for our customers."

The USDA says they'll begin reprimanding companies that use the word organic in their brand or company name but only produce partially organic or inorganic products.

"It was misleading to the consumers if not disingenuous and dishonest by the marketers. So, again we're trying to ensure fairness, accuracy and to ensure farmers and companies that get products certified organic and carry the USD organic logo truly are competing on a level playing field and consumers are getting what they're paying for,” says Fantle.

The USDA has yet to release the type of reprimands companies can expect. But says, it will review new or existing company or brand names using the term organic on a case by case basis.

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