Organic Farming Research Foundation: Policy Alert



Vicki Morrone

Organic Vegetable and Crop Outreach Specialist

Michigan State University

C.S. Mott Group for Sustainable Food Systems

303 Natural Resources Bldg.

East Lansing, MI 48824


517-282-3557 (cell)

517-353-3834 (fax)

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From: Organic Farming Research Foundation [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Sunday, February 10, 2008 6:25 PM
To: Vicki Morrone
Subject: OFAN: Give Organics A Fair Share in the Farm Bill!


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Organic Deserves A Fair Share in the
Farm Bill Conference!

Now is the time for organic farmers to demand a fair share for organic research and education funding! Last week, the Senate appointed its members of the Conference Committee that will resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the new Farm Bill, starting the final stage of Farm Bill negotiations. The Senate’s Farm Bill funds the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), USDA’s premier organic agriculture research program, at $16 million/year, but the House version funds it at only $5 million/year. We need your help to secure the Senate amount in the final bill! This amount is still far short of fair share funding for organic research and education, but would make a strong down payment.

Please tell your Senators and Representatives to support at least $16 million/year for OREI in the final Farm Bill! A list of Senate conferees and likely House conferees is below. If your Senators and Representatives are not on this list, please tell them to speak to their colleagues on the Conference Committee. This is our last opportunity to demand fair share for organic agriculture research funding – your calls and letters are needed NOW! (Scroll down for contact info for your Members of Congress, talking points, and background info.)

Farm Bill Conference Committee

Senate Conferees
Tom Harkin (D-IA)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Max Baucus (D-MT)
Blanche Lincoln (D-AR)
Deborah Stabenow (D-MI)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Richard Lugar (R-IN)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Pat Roberts (R-KS)
Charles Grassley (R-IA)

Likely House Conferees
(The House hasn’t yet named their conferees, but here’s a list of likely members.)
Collin Peterson, (D-MN)
Tim Holden (D-PA)
Mike McIntyre (D-NC)
Bob Etheridge (D-NC)
Leonard Boswell (D-IA)
Joe Baca (D-CA)
Dennis Cardoza (D-CA)
David Scott (D-GA)
Earl Pomeroy (D-GA)
Bob Goodlatte (R-VA)
Frank Lucas (R-OK)
Jerry Moran (R-KS)
Robin Hayes (R-NC)
Jo Bonner (R-AL)
Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO)
Randy Neugebauer (R-TX)

Contact Info for Your Members of Congress

Senator Carl Levin
Phone: 202-224-6221
Fax: 202-224-1388

Senator Debbie Stabenow
Phone: 202-224-4822
Fax: 202-228-0325

Representative Mike Rogers
Phone: 202-225-4872
Fax: 202-225-5820
Written letters and calls are more effective than emails. Please fax your letter as mail takes several weeks to arrive in DC offices. Include your name and address in your letter, and mention if you are a farmer or rancher.

Please let us know if you contact your member of Congress and how they respond. Call or email Tracy Lerman, Policy Program Assistant at (831) 426-6606 x 108 or [log in to unmask].

Talking Points

·                          Please support the Senate mandatory funding level of $16 million/year for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).

·                          OREI provides crucial funding for organic agriculture researchers to improve productivity and profitability of organic farming systems.

·                          More organic agriculture research is critical in helping U.S. organic farmers and ranchers meet consumer demand for organic food.

·                          Fair share funding means that USDA research funding for organic should at least match organic’s share of the U.S. retail food market.

·                          Currently, organic represents almost 4% of US food spending, but organic research funding is less than 1.5% of USDA’s research budget.

·                          Funding OREI at $16 million year is a first step towards fair share funding for organic agriculture research and education.


The 2008 Farm Bill is in the final stages of negotiations. The House and Senate both passed their versions of the bill in 2007 and the differences between the two versions will be worked out in a joint House-Senate conference committee. The Senate named their Farm Bill conferees last week (Feb. 4th). House conferees are not named yet but will likely include the subcommittee chairs of the House Agriculture Committee.

Among the various provisions being negotiated is the funding amount for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). OREI is USDA’s premier competitive grants program for organic agriculture research, and was funded at $3 million/year in the 2002 Farm Bill. The Senate Farm Bill funds it at $16 million/year but the House version funds it at only $5 million/year. We are calling for the Senate amount to be included in the final Farm Bill.

OFRF has long been advocating that a fair share of USDA research dollars be allocated towards organic agriculture research, meaning that the percentage of organic research funding would at least match organic’s share of the retail food market. Currently, organic represents almost 4% of US food spending, but organic research funding is less than 1.5% of USDA’s research and education budget for FY08. We estimate that current fair share funding for organic should be at least $120 million/year across all USDA research agencies. By the end of the 2008 Farm Bill, fair share funding will be closer to 10% of USDA research spending (at least $200 million/year). Mandatory funding for OREI at $16 million/year, along with increases in funding for organic agriculture research in the other USDA research agencies is still far short of fair share funding, but would bring us closer to that goal.

For more information on fair share funding for organic agriculture research, read our Organic Agriculture Research Policy Targets.

For more information on organic provisions of the Farm Bill, read our Farm Bill Update.

To view detailed differences between the House and Senate passed versions of the Farm Bill, see this interactive summary of the Farm Bill posted on the House Agriculture Committee website.

To read past updates and alerts visit our OFAN info page.

Join OFRF's Organic Farmers Action Network at our online subscription page.

News Roundup

“Farm Bill Compromise to be Offered Next Week.” – Reuters, 2/8/08

“The Butz Stops Here.” – The Grist, 2/7/08

“Bush Says He Might Veto Farm Bill.” – Associated Press, 2/6/08

“Organic Producers Can Still Rally for Farm Bill.” – Agri News, 1/29/08

“Is it too late for progressive farm and food policy reforms?” – The Daily Kos, 1/26/08

Upcoming Events

San Francisco, CA
2/13/08: Speak-Out and Eat-In For A Fair and Healthy Farm Bill!

Salem, OR
2/14-15/08: The Organic Seed Alliance’s Fifth Organic Seed Growers Conference

Richmond, VA
2/15-16/08: Ninth Annual Virginia Biological Farming Conference and Trade Show

LaCrosse, WI
2/21/08 – 2/23/08:The Upper Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service's 19th Annual Organic Farming Conference.

Albuquerque, NM
2/28/08: A Dialogue Meeting for A National Organic Action Plan. Contact Liana Hoodes for more info: [log in to unmask] or 845-744-2304.

2/29/08 – 3/1/08:The New Mexico Organic Farming Conference: The Southwest’s Premier Conference for Organic Agriculture.

Dalton, GA
2/29/08 – 3/1/08: Georgia Organics 10th Anniversary Conference: Connecting at the Crossroads - New Directions for Farms, Foods & Communities.



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