• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Tales of the Red Tape #15: More Regulatory Manure from USDA

    It’s impossible to imagine that the Founders conceived of America as a place where the federal government regulates compost. Yet here we are.

    Effective May 9, the use of compost in the production of certified organic foods must comply with precise temperature, moisture, and chemical standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). And it took the agency only nine years to finalize the rules.

    USDA claims this particular regulatory authority in accordance with the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, the purpose of which is “to respond to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biodiversity.”

    How did we ever get along without it?

    Consequently, compost used in food that is labeled “organic” must originate from a plant and animal stew that reached a temperature between 131° F and 170° F for a minimum of three days using an in-vessel or static aerated pile system or a temperature of 131° F and 170° F for 15 days using a windrow composting system, during which period the materials must be turned a minimum of five times. Oh, and a carbon-to-nitrogen ratio between 25:1 and 40:1.

    There’s an entirely different set of rules for vermicompost—i.e., worms. (You don’t want to know the details.)

    The new compost standards, according to officials, represent the “current thinking” of the National Organic Program. Which means some future thinking may require a change in standards.

    Meanwhile, states have issued their own rules, too, making organic food anything but pure and simple.

    Want to read more Tales of the Red Tape? Check out these stories below:

    #1: We See Dead People

    #2: The EPA Is Fueling Nonsense

    #3: Don’t Touch That Dial!

    #4: The Unwitting Peddlers of Toxic Tomes

    #5: Calorie Counts Forced Down Our Throats

    #6: Equine Equality Under the ADA

    #7: Energy Department Plumbing for More Regulatory Powers

    #8: How Many Hazmat Suits Does It Take to Change a Light Bulb?

    #9: Regulators Going Off on Microwave Ovens

    #10: The State Department’s Passport Inquisition

    #11: Circumcising Principle in San Francisco

    #12: Regulatory Grapes of Wrath

    #13: An “F” for Train Regulation

    #14: Old MacDonald’s Commodity Cartel

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to Tales of the Red Tape #15: More Regulatory Manure from USDA

    1. Bobbie says:

      No reason of significance. Dangerous make-work. Irrational use and abuse of tax dollars. Destruction of our immunities. Set-up steps for future crisis. Food is survival. This government is too reckless and hungry for power, with no concern to the people just greater manipulation to control the people. This is wrong, unnecessary and a matter of life and death. Where is the line drawn?

    2. Dan Gray says:

      My wife an I started a small garden, terraced onto our ateep backyard slope, about a dozen years ago. Perched above Pennsylvania's Schuylkill River near it's source, we had only hard clay soil to work with, but year after year we have composted yard and kitchen vegetable wastes, using nothing more than old plastic trash barrels and a shovel, to amend the soil and make it fit for growing. We also add manure on occasion, but are unfortunately too far from Harrisburg or Washington to avail ourselves of their abundant surplus.

      Now our garden contains rich loamy soil, and grows valuable, healthy and tasty vegetables for our family's consumption. Were we and the many family farm businesses in our region to have to abide by nonsensical, arbitrary and costly regulations, the soil would remain unproductive, we would be completely at the mercy of the supermarket food supply, (never more than three days from disastrous empty shelves), and would never have any surplus to share with neighbors and friends.

      It may be that limiting and tightly controlling food production is one of the Progressive aims that seek to make serfs of us all. I for one, will never live on my knees, nor will I swallow my words.

    3. Pingback: Tales of the Red Tape: Tackling Serious Matters in Washington, D.C.The Foundry: Conservative Policy News Blog from The Heritage Foundation

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.