OTA Congratulates Conference Committee on Farm Bill Work

OTA Congratulates Conference Committee on Farm Bill Work

GREENFIELD, Mass., May 2 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Organic Trade Association (OTA) today congratulated the Congressional Conference Committee for its hard work in pursuing its goal to deliver a Farm Bill for American farmers and consumers, by agreeing in principle to provisions in a Conference Report. “OTA is very pleased that organic agriculture and processing received positive recognition in the discussions on this 2007/2008 Farm Bill,” said Caren Wilcox, OTA’s Executive Director.

Thus far the Conference Report contains important provisions that will enhance organic agriculture development and processing. These include:

· $78 million over five years to increase specific funding for organic research that will bring new technical, scientific and marketing analysis to farmers and processors;
· $22 million in funding for a share of the costs of certification for organic farmers;
· $5 million for enhanced data collection, analysis and reporting that will contribute to many other programmatic advantages for organic;
· a required study to plan to overcome the current barrier for organic crop insurance coverage whereby organic farmers pay an extra 5 percent premium but are paid for any losses as though they were raising non-organic crops;
· authorization of enhanced funding for the National Organic Program within the Agriculture Marketing Service to ensure appropriate enforcement and accreditation, as well as international oversight of organic production; and
· attention within the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) for technical and conversion assistance that will help increase organic acreage within the United States.

“OTA’s list of issues, as directed by its Board of Directors, needing attention are all addressed – some exactly as OTA had hoped, and a few where progress toward a higher goal was made,” Wilcox said, adding, “OTA will be working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to implement these provisions as soon as the Conference Committee report has been accepted.”

Some provisions for organic agriculture would be covered by mandatory funding, and others, although authorized, must undergo the appropriations process in Congress. The bill provides approximately $100 million in mandatory funding for organic agriculture over a five-year period.

The Farm Bill overall is predicted to cost approximately $570 billion over ten years and covers everything from commodities, to Food Stamp and WIC programs, to energy provisions and much more.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. Its more than 1,700 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.
Posted 5.6.08

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