Tester hails USDA’s extension of agricultural coexistence comment period

Senate’s only working farmer seeks to strengthen America’s food system

(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the U.S. Agriculture Department announced that it is extending its comment period on agricultural coexistence until March 4. Tester, the Senate’s only working farmer, recently called on USDA to give producers more time to provide comment on how the department oversees traditional, organic and genetically-engineered crops:

“I’m pleased USDA is listening to hard-working producers and all Americans and extending the comment period. Members of the public and farmers deserve a real say in how we manage our crops and ensure public health. Government works best when folks have the chance to speak up, so I encourage all Americans to make their voices heard so we have a food system that promotes good health, economic development and traditional agriculture.”

Tester sent his letter to USDA on December 20 after hearing concerns about the short comment period from small producers and public health organizations. The Agriculture Department originally planned to end the comment period on January 3.

Coexistence is defined as the simultaneous cultivation of crops, including traditionally produced, organic, identity preserved, and genetically engineered crops. The USDA is seeking ways to improve communication and collaboration across agricultural sectors.

Tester wants to make sure USDA takes into account the comments of traditional producers so they are not squeezed out by larger agriculture corporations.

To submit comments, visit: www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=APHIS-2013-0047