Organic Growers Trying To Find A Place At The Table

The Farm Bill priorities for organic agriculture were discussed by a diverse group of representatives from the organic sector during the first House of Representatives hearing on organic agriculture and business in April. Testimony from leaders within the organic industry was presented to the newly formed House Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture.

The testimony represented a consensus of priorities for the 2007 Farm Bill. Mark Lipson, policy program director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation, presented information that focused on the obstacles facing the growth of domestic organic production and the gaps in organic production research and education. Specifically, he spoke about the need for increased information delivery and education for transitioning and veteran organic growers, increased federal funding for organic research and

Extension, and the obstacles that organic farmers face in obtaining credit and fair crop insurance premiums.

Caren Wilcox, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA), also provided an overview of the industry and expressed the need for government resources to support the need of the industry to increase market share to meet growing consumer demand for products. She stated that “U.S. organic food sales were about $14.6 billion in 2005 and occupied about 2.5% of the retail marketplace. The fastest-growing organic product categories include meat, dairy, and condiments. Fruits and vegetables represent the largest dollar value category in the organic sector. Pet food was growing as a category even before the recalls, and is growing even faster now.”

The Plan

The OTA Farm Bill plan focuses on four priorities:

1. Fostering conversion to organic agriculture and trade;
2. Eliminating hurdles to organic agriculture and trade;
3. Initiating and funding organic agriculture and economic research, and;
4. Maintaining and enhancing current agency programs.

In general, many of the grassroots organizations who represent large numbers of organic producers have identified these issues that are priorities for the Farm Bill:

• Reauthorization of the Organic Production and Marketing Data Initiatives of the 2002 Farm Bill. This includes expanding data collection on national organic fruit and vegetable pricing through the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), funding overall market trends and farm financial indicators data collection through Economic Research Service (ERS), funding surveys and census data through the National Agriculture Statistics Service (NASS), and promoting international organic research collaboration.

• Stronger fiscal commitment for research, Extension, and educational efforts in organic agriculture. Although there was an increased commitment to organic agriculture research dollars in the previous Farm Bill, only about 0.4% of the USDA research and education outlays went to efforts specifically addressing organic production. The Organic Farming Research Foundation is calling for a fair share of research dollars — approximately 3%, which would be consistent with the current contribution of organic sales in the U.S. marketplace.

Additionally, ARS should strengthen efforts to disseminate organic research results through the USDA National Agriculture Library’s Alternative Farming System Information Center. The Integrated Organic Program administered by USDA Cooperative State Research, Education & Extension Service (CSREES) Plant and Animal Systems Division should receive increased funding based on the high level of interest in the program and the fact that only 10 of the qualified applicants have received funding.

This would also increase grant programs to include organic priority areas within the current USDA-CSREES Marketing and Economic Systems section and the National Research Initiative germplasm programs. The USDA-CSREES Integrated Pest Management Centers should expand their role in serving the organic sector with products that relate to acceptable organic BMPs. 

• Support for the Conservation Security Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program with the addition of language to the ensure that these programs serve the organic sector.

• Support for mandatory annual funding of the Certification Cost Share Program.

• Support for a Beginning Organic Farmer/Rancher Program.

• Support for tax breaks and other financial incentives for transitioning to organic.

• Support for changes in the current Risk Management Agency/Crop insurance program. Organic growers should not have to pay the 5% additional fee surcharge they currently must pay to be covered by the Multi-Peril Crop Insurance Program. When an organic producer incurs a loss they should be reimbursed at the price their organic product would have received. Currently, organic growers are reimbursed for crop loss at a rate based on average conventional prices, generally far below the value of the organic crops. This would involve expanding the Whole Farm Revenue Insurance Program so that it is available to all organic producers.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
Choosing the right fungicide can be critical as shown here by the stark contrast between a fungicide-treated garlic leaf (right) and an untreated leaf covered with a pathogenic rust fungus.
Photo credit: S. T. Koike
Crop Protection
April 30, 2016
How To Elect The Right Fungicide For The Job
It’s that time of year again, the time when the nation once more faces critical questions about the future ahead. Once Read More
Young Growers are pictured with Wally Heuser (center front row), the first IFTA president. (Photo credit: Christina Herrick)
GenNext Growers
April 30, 2016
Young Growers The Focus Of Industry Programming, Reception
The next generation in the tree fruit industry getting support of leading industry organizations. Read More
Jacket Rot Almonds featured image
Nuts
April 29, 2016
Look Out For Jacket Rot On Almond Leaves
Rains at bloom are causing higher than normal incidents of bacterial infections. Read More
An intern harvest salad greens at Churview Farm for a farm dinner FEATURE
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Churchview Farm Aims To Close The Gap Between Farm And Table
This year, from June through September, Churchview Farm, located just outside of Pittsburgh, will host four farm dinners a month, Read More
Cosmis Crisp apples planting FEATURE
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
How Wholesale-Only Growers And Farm Marketers Differ In Their Crop Choices
We already know of some of the differences between farm marketers and wholesale-only farms. Farm marketers outnumber wholesale-only farms. Wholesale-only Read More
apple tree trellising washington state
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
Cracks In Your Orchard’s Infrastructure Expose Bigger Flaws
Modern blocks can increase your production, but if your training system is shoddy, you could see major losses. Read More
Brandt logo
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Utah-Based Baicor
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Drip Irrigation
Production
April 28, 2016
Farm Demonstration Visits To Focus On Soil Health
California farmers will share practical experiences in “growing” healthy soil. Read More
Two chipping varieties Cornell released in the last few years that have shown promise are ‘Lamoka’ and ‘Waneta.’ 
“They both have outstanding chip color when fried out of the cold, which is a trait that’s important in the industry,” Cornell's Walter De Jong says.
Photo courtesy of Walter De Jong
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell University
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
The Latest
Crop Protection
April 30, 2016
How To Elect The Right Fungicide For The…
It’s that time of year again, the time when the nation once more faces critical questions about the future ahead. Once Read More
GenNext Growers
April 30, 2016
Young Growers The Focus Of Industry Prog…
The next generation in the tree fruit industry getting support of leading industry organizations. Read More
Nuts
April 29, 2016
Look Out For Jacket Rot On Almond Leaves
Rains at bloom are causing higher than normal incidents of bacterial infections. Read More
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Churchview Farm Aims To Close The Gap Be…
This year, from June through September, Churchview Farm, located just outside of Pittsburgh, will host four farm dinners a month, Read More
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
How Wholesale-Only Growers And Farm Mark…
We already know of some of the differences between farm marketers and wholesale-only farms. Farm marketers outnumber wholesale-only farms. Wholesale-only Read More
Farm Marketing
April 29, 2016
Who’s Using Biocontrols, And Who I…
With so many consumers concerned about how food is grown, many farm marketers find themselves in the unexpected role of Read More
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
Cracks In Your Orchard’s Infrastructure …
Modern blocks can increase your production, but if your training system is shoddy, you could see major losses. Read More
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Uta…
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Production
April 28, 2016
Farm Demonstration Visits To Focus On So…
California farmers will share practical experiences in “growing” healthy soil. Read More
Potatoes
April 28, 2016
Potato Breeding Update From Cornell Univ…
Variety research includes incorporating resistance to Potato Virus Y, a new race of golden nematode, and improving appearance. Read More
Farm Marketing
April 28, 2016
Small Producers Talk Profits
Four growers from across the country discuss the importance of knowing your customer, how to handle money, and being the face of your farm. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
Knowing Role, Expectations Beneficial To…
Labor management is much more than just delegation. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
USDA Establishes New Partnership To Link…
Minority, women, new and beginning, military, veteran, and urban producers to receive training and information on agency services. Read More
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
The Truth About Most Farmworkers [Opinio…
Just ask any grower who has placed a help wanted ad. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural …
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
It’s Time To Rethink Grade Standards For…
Food waste is largely dictated by limiting produce standards. Read More
Crop Protection
April 27, 2016
Vector Transmitting Red Blotch Virus Fou…
Researchers at the University of California, Davis (UC-Davis) have found the vector that seems to be spreading grapevine red blotch, a Read More
Berries
April 27, 2016
New Herbicide For Tomatoes, Strawberries
The product from Helm Agro US is registered to control more than 100 broadleaf, grass, and sedge species. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]