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CERTIFICATION COST SHARE
SIGN-ON LETTERSeptember 4, 2012
SIGN-ON LETTER TO SUPPORTCOST-SHARE PROGRAM
NATIONAL ORGANIC CERTIFICATION
ORGANIZATIONS -- FARMS -- BUSINESSESSIGN ON BY MONDAY SEPTEMBER 10 5 pm PacificSign on by emailing your name, organization/farm/business, city, state
National Organic Certification Cost Share Program in Jeopardy~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Dear Organic Community Friends-
As many of you know, Congress is in the process of writing the 2012 Farm Bill. Many important organic programs are set to expire at the end of September unless reauthorized.
One of the programs that is in great jeopardy is the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, which helps defray the annual certification costs of organic farmers and handlers.
The House Agriculture Committee has passed a version of the Farm Bill that repeals the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program.
Fortunately, the Senate has passed a version of the new Farm Bill that provides full funding for organic certification cost share assistance, and streamlines the two existing certification cost share programs into one program to minimize confusion and duplication. The Senate action was taken as a result of the strong leadership of Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, the chief Senate advocate for the cost share program.
Please join in signing the attached letter to Senator Leahy, thanking him for his efforts, and rooting him on as the Farm Bill moves to the next step.
The differences between the House and Senate versions of the Farm Bill must be reconciled to produce one final version of the bill. We need to show our strong support for Senator Leahy's efforts protect organic certification cost share assistance, and ensure it's inclusion in the final Farm Bill.~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Here's the Letter....
Sign on by emailing your name, organization/farm/business, city, state
to: [log in to unmask]
September X, 2012
The Honorable Patrick J. Leahy
United States Senate
Washington D.C. 20510
Dear Senator Leahy:
We, the undersigned organizations, thank you for your on-going leadership to advance and grow organic agriculture in Vermont and nationwide. Specifically, we want to express our thanks and gratitude for your strong support of organic certification cost share assistance for the nation's organic farmers and handlers as part of the 2012 Farm Bill reauthorization process.
The growing costs of annual organic certification can be prohibitive for some organic operations, especially those of small to medium scale. Yet third-party organic certification is critical to maintaining consistency in the application of organic standards, meeting consumer expectations, and ensuring the integrity of the trusted USDA certified organic brand. The modest certification cost share assistance provided to partially offset these costs has been instrumental in the decision by many farmers and handlers to seek initial organic certification and to remain certified as organic - in spite of the annual costs of doing so. This has helped to foster diversity in the scale of operations certified as organic, and also helps to maintain jobs here in the U.S
We also appreciate your leadership and wisdom in advocating for the merging of the two federal organic certification cost share programs. Streamlining these two programs under the umbrella of the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program provides adequate cost share funding for organic farmers and handlers in all fifty states while minimizing program costs and maximizing efficiency. The inclusion of this provision in the Senate version of the 2012 Farm Bill is largely due to your leadership and greatly appreciated by organic farmers, handlers, and consumers in Vermont and nationwide.
In contrast, the bill passed out of the House Agriculture Committee in July completely repeals the National Organic Certification Cost Share program. It retains minimal funding for organic certification cost share through the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) but only for farmers in 16 states, with NO cost share assistance for organic handlers at all. The House approach not only creates unnecessary division within the organic community, but it also threatens the growth in certified organic production in this nation at a time when the organic sector is already struggling to keep up with record-breaking consumer demand for organic foods and beverages.
Organic agriculture is a bright spot in our economy. With an estimated 527,000 jobs created in 2010 alone, it is the fastest growing sector of agriculture. These are jobs that can and should be created here at home. Rather than relying on imports, certified organic farmers in our communities should be supported in their efforts to meet that demand. Your leadership on behalf of organic certification cost share assistance through an expanded AMA program plays a critical role in that effort.
We thank you for your excellent work and that of your excellent staff member, Adrienne Wojciechowski. We look forward to working with you to support the Senate position on this matter and to ensure that it is included in the final farm bill.
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Contact Information:Liana Hoodes
National Organic Coalition National Organic Action Plan
3540 Route 52, Pine Bush, NY 12566
Phone and Fax: 845-744-2304