In less than a 24-hour span, both of New York’s United States Senators, Charles E. “Chuck” Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, made independent visits to Yates County, both with agriculture and consumers foremost in their minds.
Schumer, the U.S. Senate Minority Leader, visited Birkett Mills in Penn Yan Friday afternoon to say newly discovered shipments of fraudulently labeled organic products into U.S. could hurt American farmers and consumers if regulators do not step up the oversight of imported organic foods. If mislabeled organic products continue to reach America, they will undermine consumer trust in “organic” brands, he says.
Schumer is calling on the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture to get tough and crack down on mislabeled products from making it to the American market. “Yates County has more organic farming than anywhere in New York and we need to help it grow,” says Schumer.
Schumer will call on the USDA to work with the Office of the Inspector General to examine and immediately address the issue of organics fraud, including more aggressive enforcement. “The organic industry has greatly expanded in recent years — in Yates County and all over Upstate New York — creating exciting new opportunities for New York farmers, but food products — especially foreign ones mislabeled as ‘organic’ — threaten to undermine the growing industry in Yates County and throughout Upstate New York.