Dear Supporter of Sustainable Agriculture,


It's not every day, or even every year, that you have the opportunity to participate in the formulation of federal legislation that determines the direction of agriculture in the United States. Every 5 years, Congress takes up the Farm Bill, and the time for the 2012 Farm Bill debate has come. In Michigan you have a unique opportunity to influence the Farm Bill's potential to support organic agriculture because the Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee is your own Senator Debbie Stabenow. 


That is why the first official hearing about the 2012 Farm Bill is being held by Senator Stabenow in East Lansing, MI on Tuesday, May 31st, 2011. 


We urge you to join the organic farming community in Michigan in letting Senator Stabenow know just how important organic agriculture is to America and how critical it is to promote organic ag programs in the 2012 Farm Bill. 


What: Senate Agriculture Committee Field Hearing

When: Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

            9:00am- 12:00pm

Where: Kellogg Center, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI



There will be a panel taking questions. You can submit questions to the panel by May 26th, by sending them to: [log in to unmask]It would be great if the panel received a number of questions about organics. Here is asample question which you could submit: 


"Organic agriculture is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture, creating jobs in rural America and lucrative market opportunities for American family farmers. How do you plan to promote and protect organic farming and farmers in the 2012 Farm Bill?" 


You can also submit testimony by June 7th to the same email address. 


Please RSVP to [log in to unmask], and Cc (copy) Taylor Reid at [log in to unmask]



Why Should I Show Up?

Negotiations are already under way to determine what will and will not be included in the 2012 Farm Bill. Substantial budget cuts are being proposed, both to mandatory 2008 Farm Bill programs, and to programs that would likely otherwise be included in the 2012 Farm Bill. We understand the need to reduce spending, but Congress should take a fair and balanced approach, and not only single out specific programs that benefit organic farmers. We need Senator Stabenow to see how much support there is for protecting funding for organic agriculture and conservation programs in the next Farm Bill. We need you, the farmers and farm supporters, to show up. 


What's At Stake?

A few of the organic programs that are funded in the 2008 FarmBill that need to be re-funded in the 2012 Farm Bill include the following:


·         Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)

Administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, OREI is USDA’s flagship competitive grants program dedicated to organic research and extension activities.  OREI funds research projects on organic agricultural systems, ranging from improving weed management and developing organic seed to enhancing environmental sustainability and carbon sequestration on organic farms. 


·         National Organic Certification Cost-share Program (NOCCSP)

This cost-share program helps certified organic farmers and handlers offset the costs of certification by providing a small reimbursement of no more that $750 per year.


·         Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives (ODI)

A small but significant initiative, ODI received $5 million over five years in the last farm bill to fund basic USDA data collection on the organic sector. 


·         Environmental Quality Incentives Program Organic Initiative (EQIP OI) and Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP)

USDA National Resource Conservation Programs that provide financial incentives for farmers to conserve land forenvironmental benefits and to implement practices, such as organic agricultural methods, that are environmentally sustainable.


·         National Organic Program (NOP)

NOP enforces the national organic program standards, accreditscertifiers, develops equivalency agreements, handles complaints – in essence, NOP ensures the integrity of the organic seal.  


According to the announcement about the hearing from Senator Debbie Stabenow:


As you know, this legislation has broad implications for agriculture as well as sweeping impact on our energy, conservation, rural development, research, forestry and nutrition policies. This is your opportunity to make your voice heard and to be a part of the official record of committee debate.


Let's show up and share with Senator Stabenow our support for organics in the 2012 Farm Bill! 


Again, please RSVP to [log in to unmask], and Cc (copy) Taylor Reid at [log in to unmask]


Also, please don't hesitate to contact Udi Lazimy at the Organic Farming Research Foundation or Taylor Reid at Michigan Organic Food and Farm Alliance with any questions.


Thank you,


Udi Lazimy
Policy Program Organizer

Organic Farming Research Foundation
303 Potrero St. #29-203
Santa Cruz, CA 95060

p: (831) 426-6606 x 108
c: (303) 579-8592
f: (831) 426-6670
www.ofrf.org * [log in to unmask]

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