What’s Happening In Organic Ag Production?? Feb 14-March 1, 2007
IT”S NOT TOO LATE TO GO TO THE MICHIGAN ORGANIC CONFERENCE SPONSORED BY MOFFA. SAT MARCH 3 8:30-6 PM IN EAST LANSING
GO TO WWW.MOFFA.ORG TO SEE THE AGENDA, FEATURING ELIZABETH HENDERSON, FROM PEACEWORK FARM IN NY AND JEFF Moyer from Rodale Research Institute in PA.
1. New MSU Organic Production WEB site, “Organic Farming Exchange”.!!!!!
Please take a few minutes to check out this NEW resource for farmers like you. The goal of offering this site is to put information of interest to you at your fingertips-from events to practical production information. Go to www.michiganorganic.msu.edu and let me know what I can do to improve the site and make it more useful for you.
Thanks and remember-Keep your spades up and your feet done because spring IS coming.
Organic vegetable and field crop production outreach specialist.
News on the Upcoming Farm Bill
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Scott Kuschmider (202) 225-1496
2. Subcommittee Reviews USDA Farm Bill Proposals for Specialty Crops and Organic Agriculture
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the House Agriculture Committee's Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture held a hearing to review the U.S.
Department of Agriculture's proposals for specialty crops and organic agriculture in the 2007 Farm Bill. Congressman Dennis Cardoza of California is Chairman of the Subcommittee.
"Many of the crops covered by this subcommittee have waited far too long to become part of federal farm programs," Chairman Cardoza said. "Specialty crops comprise a substantial percentage of American agriculture, but receive far less than their fair share in federal support. We must look for resourceful and innovative ways to weave non-traditional commodities into existing programs and create new ones that suit the unique needs of these industries."
"Fruits and vegetables are a large and important segment of American agriculture. As this Subcommittee begins its work on the 2007 Farm Bill, I look forward to hearing input from producers to determine how any new funding that might be available would provide the most benefit for the specialty crop sector," said Ranking Member Randy Neugebauer of Texas.
The subcommittee heard testimony from U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Secretary Chuck Conner. Deputy Secretary Conner answered questions from subcommittee members about the specialty crop title to the USDA 2007 Farm Bill proposals the agency released on January 31.
The Horticulture and Organic Agriculture Subcommittee will be one of six House Agriculture subcommittees involved in reauthorization of farm programs in the Farm Bill. The Farm Bill authorizes commodity support, agricultural trade, marketing, food assistance, and rural development policies over several years. The current farm bill was written in 2002, and many of the provisions in that bill will expire in September of 2007.
Deputy Secretary Conner's opening statement is available on the Committee website at http://agriculture.house.gov/hearings/index.html
A full transcript of the hearing will be posted on the Committee website in
Recommendation in Brief
Re-authorize and expand the Organic Certification Cost Share Program and provide
funding for organic farming research and comprehensive market price information
gathering. These organic farming initiatives total $61 million in additional funding over
There is increased demand for organic supply and more farmers are interested in
transitioning from traditional farming to organic farming but barriers exist. The
requirements to be certified organic are lengthy and can be quite costly, especially for
small farmers. In addition, a key deterrent to transition is the lack of solid production and
market data to inform farmers, processors, wholesalers and retailers about the supply of
key organic commodities and pricing data for those commodities.
Organic food consumption now constitutes about 2.5 percent of the food market. Retail
organic sales are currently at $15 billion and growing by about 15-20 percent annually.
U.S. sales of organic food and fiber now constitute one of the fastest growing segments
of U.S. agriculture.
Organic farmers, just like traditional farmers, are also looking for opportunities in the
global market place. More and more trading partners are seeking organic certification
recognition to gain access to the U.S. organic consumer market.
Finally, with rapid growth in the organic market comes an inevitable increase in the
number of alleged violations many due to lack of knowledge about the program and the
regulations. But a growing number are due to willful attempts to circumvent the
regulations to capture profits at consumers’ expense. In some cases, the regulations
themselves appear insufficient to support enforcement activity. To address these
problems, gaps in the regulations must be addressed and compliance and enforcement
activity must be increased.
The Administration proposes enhancing the role of U.S. organic production agriculture
and organic markets through the following authorities:
1. Increase the cost share program from the current 15 states to all 50 states and permit
producers and handlers to be eligible. Increase cost share reimbursement from $500
to $750 maximum or 75 percent of costs incurred, whichever is lowest. This
provision is helpful to small organic farmers who have trouble with the cost of the
certification. The program should be authorized to expend up to $5 million annually
in mandatory funding.
2. Reauthorize and fund data collection to identify and publish organic production and
market data initiatives and surveys. Additionally, authorize and fund comprehensive
price reporting. Organic farmers and those wishing to transition into organic farming
lack solid production and market data about the supply of key organic commodities
as well as pricing data for these commodities. Conventional farmers have access to
USDA data which they can use to plan crop plantings and make marketing decisions.
Similar data is not available to organic farmers. The farm bill should authorize $1
million in mandatory funding to be available until expended for this data collection
3. Invest an additional $10 million in mandatory funding to be available until expended
for organic research. This new funding would focus on conservation and
environmental outcomes and new and improved seed varieties especially suited for
4. Eligibility for the proposed enhanced Environmental Quality Incentives Program
(EQIP) cost-share assistance would include a broad range of land uses including
organically farmed land. (For further information, see the proposal entitled
Environmental Quality Incentives Program on pages 43 45.)
5. Expand mandatory funding for the Market Access Program (MAP) by $250 million
over 10 years and focus the additional funds on non-program commodities. Organic
agriculture would be allowed to compete for Market Access Program funding to help
develop and increase the organic export market. (For further information, see the
proposal entitled Enhance the Market Access Program on pages 69 70.)
The National Organic Program (NOP) originated with passage of the Organic Foods
Production Act of 1990. The NOP regulations provide voluntary, uniform marketing
standards for the production and processing of organic products that are to be labeled as
100 percent organic, organic, or made with organic ingredients, based on their
final organic ingredient content. Essentially, the standards are a set of sustainable
agricultural production and processing practices, using little or no chemicals, synthetics,
irradiation, genetically modified organisms, or sewage sludge. All operations must be
certified, by an accredited USDA certifying agent a private entity licensed by USDA
that verifies that each operation is producing to the NOP standards. Products that meet
the standards are eligible to apply a USDA seal, for 100 percent and organic (95
percent) content product. Additionally, the Certification Cost Share Program helps defray
the cost of annual organic certification, particularly important to smaller producers and
processors. Current NOP resources include an annual budget of approximately $2.3
3. Bush's farm bill outlines bold move
While environmentalists applaud some measures, farmers are concerned about financial curbs.
By Amanda Paulson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
CHICAGO - The Bush administration's recent proposals for the next farm bill – due for reauthorization this fall – have been winning accolades and criticisms from some surprising quarters.
Environmentalists have lauded it as an important step in the right direction, even as the largely Republican agricultural community has met many of its proposals – such as a plan to scrap subsidies for any farmer with an adjusted gross income of more than $200,000 a year – with skepticism.
Conservation and energy programs get a boost in the administration's plan, while several billion dollars are cut from payments to some of the nation's largest farmers. In comparison with the 2002 farm bill, the overall bill would spend $10 billion less over the next five years, according to the Department of Agriculture.
"We have some major concerns," says Mary Kay Thatcher, director of public policy for the American Farm Bureau Federation, which bills itself as "the voice of agriculture." "We're supportive of [conservation, energy, and rural development] getting additional funding, but we don't think you ought to reduce farmers' safety net to do that."
Organic Vegetable and Crop Outreach Specialist
Michigan State University
C.S. Mott Sustainable Food Systems
303 Natural Resources Bldg.
East Lansing, MI 48824
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