Farm Bill Victories for Organic Farmers
America's ten thousand organic farmers have won a strong commitment to organic systems research, according to the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). "With the override of the President's veto and final passage of the 2008 Farm Bill, Congress has made a substantial down payment toward a fair share of federal funding for organic agriculture," said Steve Ela, an organic tree fruit grower from Colorado and President of OFRF.
OFRF led the fight for increased organic research, education and extension funding, which proved to be the biggest win for organic farming in the legislation. The 2008 Farm Bill provides $78 million for organic agriculture research and education, an historic five-fold increase from the $15 million allocated in the expiring 2002 legislation. These funds will dramatically expand competitive grants for the development and sharing of organic farming systems information through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Integrated Organic Program. Such an expansion is urgently needed to ensure that organic farmers and ranchers can continue to meet the growing demand for organic products and be successful stewards of their land.
Other Organic Wins
In addition to the increased research, education and extension funding, the 2008 Farm Bill addresses other factors that are limiting organic
production in the U.S., including:
-- providing $5 million for collection of economic data about organic production and markets;
-- providing $22 million to offset part of farmers' organic certification costs;
-- taking steps to eliminate bias against organic growers in crop insurance programs;
-- establishing financial and technical support for conversion to organic production.