Organic Farmers Win Big in Farm Bill
WASHINGTON, DC -- Marking a significant shift in American agriculture practices, the Farm Bill signed into law today included new provisions to promote organic farming, bringing much of the industry in line with conventional farming.
Co-chairs of the bipartisan House Organic Caucus, including Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Rep. Sam Farr (D-CA), Rep. Richard Hanna (R-NY) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI), applauded the provisions, which include:
*New crop insurance provision: Under the bill, organic producers will be able to insure crops at prices consistent with their retail value. Currently, organic crops prices are set at a level with non-organic counterparts. This will ensure organic farmers are not disproportionately affected in case of a crop failure or other problem.
*Cost-share measure for farmers transitioning to organic agriculture: The Cost-Share Program assists small farmers and handlers in offsetting a portion of the costs of annual certification. Obtaining organic certification can be expensive for small producers and without this assistance, being certified organic would be unattainable for many farmers and handlers. The House Farm Bill had repealed this provision but fortunately the final bill signed into law included renewal of this key program.
*Money for research, technological upgrades and market reporting: Organic farmers face many challenges that can’t be addressed through research geared towards conventional crops. Organic farming is a unique system that requires different solutions to pest and weed management, seeds, and production. Increased funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) will help meet the growing needs of the organic community. Additionally, the Organic Production Market and Data Initiative (ODI) collects information vital to maintaining stable markets, creating risk management tools, and increasing exports.
The new Farm Bill also includes funding for new programs that incentivize local agriculture, including farmers markets.
“I first began work on an organic labeling standard in the early 1990s,” said Caucus Co-chair Rep. Peter DeFazio. “It’s amazing how far we have come, from a backyard enterprise championed by a few farmers in my district, all the way to today, where the President just signed a bill that finally puts organic agriculture on par with conventional agriculture. This legislation reflects the recognition that organic farming, a multi-billion dollar industry, is an increasingly important part of our nation’s food supply and the economy.”
“The organic industry is growing exponentially each year, making it one of the most profitable in the country,” said Caucus Co-chair Rep. Sam Farr. “The Farm Bill’s investments in organics will support that growth, leading to continued job creation while providing increased access to the healthy foods that consumers want.”
“Thanks to the bipartisan efforts of the Organic Caucus, this Farm Bill includes funding for a number of important programs for the fast-growing organic farming sector,” said Caucus Co-chair Rep. Ron Kind. “I’m pleased we were able to reach bipartisan agreement on the importance of investing in the promise of organic agriculture and helping to meet the specific needs of our organic farmers.”
In addition, the National Organic Coalition praised the House Organic Caucus for its work.
“The House Organic Caucus has been an absolutely essential tool under the leadership of Representatives Defazio, Kind, Farr, and Hanna in educating members of Congress about the importance of organic policies and programs,” said Steve Etka, Legislative Director for the National Organic Coalition. “Without the caucus, these positive Farm Bill outcomes would not have been possible.”
The House Organic Caucus was formed in 2003 to promote the fast-growing organic industry.