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

Fruits Stories
Picking fresh Florida blueberries
Berries
September 21, 2017
Ways Florida Blueberry Growers Can Elevate Their Message
Promotional efforts seek to harness power that drives the Sunshine State's ‘little blue dynamos.’ Read More
Inside the Horticulture field tour wagon at the 2016 Florida Ag Expo
Florida Ag Expo
September 21, 2017
Everything You Need to Know About the 2017 Florida Ag Expo
More education choices, flexible field tours, and networking opportunities to provide an enhanced attendee experience. Read More
Bacterial wilt symptoms on blueberry leaves
Berries
September 20, 2017
Getting to the Bottom of Bacterial Wilt in Blueberries
Prolific plant pathogen now presenting a new challenge for Florida producers and researchers. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momentum
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
EPA Mulls Restricting Dicamba Use
Proposal is a part of agency’s focus on reducing herbicide injury in vulnerable crops. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
Washington State University Creates BMSB Management Resource Page
As populations grow in the state, university offers growers pest management advice. Read More
Berries
September 19, 2017
UC Davis Strawberry Lawuit Settled
Former university breeders to return any crosses that used unpatented varieties and agree the school owns rights to them. Read More
Neo 1 hops at UF/IFAS MREC
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Apples & Pears
September 16, 2017
Researcher Finds Bacteria Can Stop Blue Mold on Apples
The natural bacterium found in soil can survive in cold storage; this promising biocontrol offers an alternative to chemical treatments. Read More
Laurel wilt-damaged avocado tree leaves
Disease Control
September 15, 2017
Scientist Uncovers Chilling Side of Deadly Avocado Disease
Lab tests indicate laurel wilt pathogen grows faster in the fall and winter. Read More
Winter melon damage from Hurricane Irma in Elkton, FL
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers Dealing With Disaster
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More
raindrops in standing water
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance, Water Testing, and Farm Inspections Announced
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
Packinghouse damage from Irma at SWFREC in Immokalee
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts of Irma
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Berries
September 12, 2017
Longtime American Fruit Grower Columnist Charlie O’Dell Dies
“The Ole Crow,” as he called himself, passed away unexpectedly at home in Virginia at the age of 82. Read More
Berries
September 12, 2017
How to Match Drip Irrigation to Improve Berry Water Management
Using root mass diameter to appropriately determine wetting pattern will help you improve growth rate and yields. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
September 22, 2017
When it Comes to Growing, Florida Farmer…
Let's raise a toast to the bold producers and researchers who are taking our industry beyond previously perceived crop viability boundaries to places once figured forbidden. Read More
Citrus
September 21, 2017
Hurricane Relief Fund Launched for Flori…
Money raised will benefit Redlands Christian Migrant Association’s efforts to aid families in need. Read More
Florida Ag Expo
September 21, 2017
Everything You Need to Know About the 20…
More education choices, flexible field tours, and networking opportunities to provide an enhanced attendee experience. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Precision in Specialty Crops Gains Momen…
Here are some of the key drivers that may transform your farm in the years ahead. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
EPA Mulls Restricting Dicamba Use
Proposal is a part of agency’s focus on reducing herbicide injury in vulnerable crops. Read More
Fruits
September 19, 2017
Washington State University Creates BMSB…
As populations grow in the state, university offers growers pest management advice. Read More
Citrus
September 19, 2017
Hopes High for Hops Fresh From Florida
When it comes to alternative crop solutions, something good is brewing in the Sunshine State. Do you have what it takes to tap in? Read More
Disease Control
September 15, 2017
Scientist Uncovers Chilling Side of Dead…
Lab tests indicate laurel wilt pathogen grows faster in the fall and winter. Read More
Citrus
September 15, 2017
Help Extended to Hurricane-Weary Farmers…
USDA chief grants extra time and special procedures to document and file claims. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
New Guidance on FSMA Ag Water Compliance…
FDA issued a rule to extend compliance dates for agricultural water and announced a start date for farm inspections. Read More
Citrus
September 13, 2017
Florida Farmers Digging out From Impacts…
Damage reports starting to flood in from the field following monster storm, and it's not pretty. Read More
Farm Management
September 10, 2017
$3 Million Available to Train Future Agr…
There are a lot more jobs being created than there are graduates with bachelor’s or higher degrees who can fill them. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Summer News Stories that Have Growers Ta…
Farming has been in the media spotlight this year. I asked each of this month’s columnists and contributors for their Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Whose Sustainable Standard Wins?
Retailers’ race to win the most sustainable produce prize leaves growers trying to keep up with fast-developing demands. Read More
Citrus
September 7, 2017
Improving Water Management: Can Silicon …
Though very much-needed, technological solutions must be cost-effective and industry appropriate. Read More
Fruits
September 5, 2017
Organic Fruit Sales Surge 12%
Organic vegetable sales rose 6%, as consumer demand is still going strong. Read More
Fruits
September 3, 2017
California Table Olive Forecast Up 9%
Like many other Golden State growers, olive farmers benefitted from a wet winter, but concerns remain over recent hot weather. Read More
Farm Marketing
September 2, 2017
We Want to Hear Your Family Farm’s…
We’re launching a new feature on American Fruit Grower and Western Fruit Grower’s Instagram page, and we want you to share your family farm’s story. Read More