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Senate's Farm Bill Draft Includes Organic Provisions

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2007-10-27 02:22:41     
Organic Trade Association

The Senate Agriculture Committee today approved its version of the Farm Bill that included funding and direction for key organic priorities, according to Caren Wilcox, executive director of the Organic Trade Association.

"The Senate Agriculture Committee took important steps today to help strengthen the safety net for organic producers and manufacturers," Wilcox said. "These measures include funding for organic research, data collection, and transition to organic production. In addition, the committee took steps to eliminate the crop insurance premium for organic producers." Currently, organic producers must pay a 5% surcharge for crop insurance; yet, in times of loss, the producers receive not the usually higher organic crop price, but the lower conventional price.

The Senate Agriculture Committee version of the Farm Bill:

-- recognizes that increased funding is essential for the National Organic Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the full authorized level;

-- includes $5 million for organic data collection to help provide better price and yield information for organically-grown crops;

-- includes $22 million in new money to help farmers transition into organic production;

-- bars USDA from charging a premium surcharge on organic crop insurance, unless validated by loss history on a crop-by-crop basis;

-- adds organic production as an eligible activity in the EQIP program;

-- adds to the Soil and Water Conservation Protection Loans a priority for those converting to organic farming practices and adds conversion to organic production as an eligible loan purpose; and

provides $80 million over the life of the bill for organic agriculture research and extension.

"The organic community has been fortunate to have Chairman Harkin, and the original creator of the organic program, Senator Leahy, as well as Senator Chambliss, so interested in giving organic agriculture and processing more access to the programs normally available to non-organic agriculture. Their support has been welcomed by the organic community." Wilcox said.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its more than 1,600 members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA's mission is to promote and protect the growth of organic trade to benefit the environment, farmers, the public and the economy.

URL: http://www.ota.com
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