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"Miles McEvoy, who has led USDA's National Organic Program for the last eight years, is stepping down from the post at the end of September. In a letter to organic groups on Monday, the Agricultural Marketing Service deputy administrator said he plans to return to his home in Olympia, Wash., to spend more time with his family, but plans to stay active in the organic community...McEvoy oversaw USDA's organic efforts during a key time in the development of the program, now in its 17th year. The market for organic products has boomed over the past decade as the sector's products have moved from niche specialty stores to mainstream supermarkets. He touted changes to the program under his tenure, including better communication with the industry and other interested parties; improved enforcement practices to root out those who violate the program's rules; and creation of standards that gave organic-raised animals access to pasture and that required testing to identify non-organic residue in products. But the industry's growth produced undeniable growing pains while McEvoy was at the helm. As production increased, many U.S. farmers have been reluctant to get in on the action, forcing companies to rely on imports, some of which have been found to be fraudulent — threatening the integrity of the organic seal. And the program's funding has remained flat, even as the market and the number of players have risen steadily, which has strained enforcement efforts. Until Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue picks McEvoy's replacement, AMS acting Administrator Bruce Summers and acting Deputy Administrator Jenny Tucker will oversee the program."

Posted September 12th, 2017