USDA seeks input on agricultural coexistence

Published online: Nov 19, 2013
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As we all know too well, recent dialog on food and agricultural production too often has centered on conflict between differing philosophies, production systems and marketing messages.

USDA now is joining the list of groups trying to find ways to tone down the rhetoric and for different agricultural systems to coexist.

USDA's efforts come as a result of recommendations from the department's Advisory Committee on Biotechnology & 21st Century. According to a notice posted in the Federal Register, agricultural coexistence refers to the concurrent cultivation of crops produced through diverse agricultural systems, including traditionally produced, organic, identity-preserved and genetically engineered crops.

Last year, the advisory committee presented a report on agricultural coexistence to Secretary Tom Vilsack, including recommendations in five areas:

  1. Potential compensation mechanisms
  2. Stewardship
  3. Education and outreach
  4. Research
  5. Seed quality

USDA is seeking public input, particularly in the area of education and outreach to foster communication and collaboration among those involved in diverse agricultural systems on the topic of coexistence as well as how USDA can best communicate and collaborate with those entities. The department will consider all comments received on or before January 3, 2014. The notice in the Federal Register includes instructions for submitting comments. Following the comment period, USDA intends to hold a public forum to discuss input provided and further explore ways to implement the recommendations.