2007 Press Releases
Agriculture Committee Endorses Aid for Organic Farmers
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 20, 2007) - The Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA) today thanked the members of the House Agriculture Committee for including key provisions in the 2007 Farm Bill that will help the organic industry continue to meet growing consumer demand for organic products.
"I am pleased with the support organic agriculture is receiving in this Farm Bill," said OTA Executive Director Caren Wilcox. "The House Agriculture Committee included important provisions that will fund expanded research into organic production, direct USDA to provide timely domestic and international market data on organic crops, and instruct companies selling crop insurance to provide equitable products to organic farmers."
Wilcox thanked Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand for her leadership in establishing a program to provide cost share for conversion and technical assistance for farmers making the transition to organic production. Gillibrand's amendment authorizes $50 million to provide farmers with the mentoring and technical expertise required to transition land from conventional to organic production. Transitioning land to organic production is a three-year process.
Wilcox praised the leadership of Committee Chairman Collin Peterson. "Organic farmers across the country owe the chairman a thank you for putting the needs of the organic industry into this Farm Bill. We are also grateful for the commitment of Dennis Cardoza, chairman of the Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture. We appreciate all that Chairman Cardoza has done to highlight organic agriculture and to work with us on improving the safety net for organic agriculture."
In addition to the Gillibrand amendment, key provisions for organic agriculture in the 2007 Farm Bill include:
1. Directing the Department to eliminate or reduce the 5% organic premium for crop insurance and provide compensation for crop loss at the actual price of the organic crop. Currently, compensation is provided at the price of the conventional crop. In addition, the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation (FCIC) would be required to submit an annual report to Congress detailing progress made in developing and improving federal crop insurance for organic crops.
2. $22 million to help farmers pay for organic certification. The certification cost-share program would provide up to $750 per farmer, increased from the current $500, to help cover the costs of organic certification. Farmland is deemed organic by USDA accredited certifiers.
3. $3 million for organic price and production data. USDA collects reams of data on agriculture prices and production, and will now include data on organic prices and production. In addition, information will be used to analyze crop loss data for organic production, leading to better risk management tools for organic producers.
4. Extending the Organic Research and Extension Initiative to examine optimal conservation and environmental outcomes for organically produced agricultural products, and to develop new and improved seed varieties that are particularly suited for organic agriculture. The committee authorized up to $25 million per year which Congress may appropriate for each fiscal year through 2012, plus additional mandatory funding from the Commodity Credit Corporation totaling $25 million during all fiscal years through 2012.
Wilcox also thanked Rep. Steve Kagen who spearheaded a sense of the Congress resolution effort to increase funding for organic research commensurate with the organic percentage of the marketplace. Currently, organic represents nearly 3% of the agriculture market; Kagen proposed spending 3% of the research budget on organic research initiatives.
The House of Representatives is expected to consider the 2007 Farm Bill next week, and OTA is recommending support for the bill.
The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its 1,600 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA encourages global sustainability through promoting and protecting the growth of diverse organic trade.
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