OTA applauds 2002 Farm Bill for its boost to organic agriculture - Organic Trade Association
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OTA applauds 2002 Farm Bill for its boost to organic agriculture


GREENFIELD, Mass. (May 1, 2002) – The 2002 Farm Bill will be good for farmers, consumers, and the U.S. economy because it creates additional opportunities for organic certification, research, and marketing, and is a great first step toward the recognition organic farms deserve, according to the Organic Trade Association (OTA). 

Provisions for organic agriculture sprinkled throughout the 2002 Farm Bill include:

·        $13.5 million for a national organic certification cost-share program to assist producers and handlers of organic products obtain certification

·        $15 million dedicated to organic research

·        Establishment of set-aside funds totaling $3.75 million for marketing value-added organic products

·        Establishment of an Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative to assist in marketing organic products and conducting farm research

·        Requirement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gather production and marketing data on organic agricultural products

·        Requirement that USDA examine the impediments and constraints caused by the federal marketing orders on organic agricultural products

·        Requirement that USDA facilitate access of organic producers to international organic research

·        Requirement that USDA report back to Congress on the impact of the national organic program on small farms

·        A provision allowing the organic industry to establish a national voluntary generic research and promotion program.

“Many of these provisions are milestones for the industry. Finally we will begin to get data on the organic industry that’s been lacking as well as more research to help advance farmers’ use and understanding of effective organic practices,” said Katherine DiMatteo, OTA’s executive director. “Its provisions will give farmers the tools they need to transition to organic agriculture and the knowledge they need to become viable, organic businesses.”

She added, “These provisions will help fulfill government goals to reduce pesticide use, protect environmental resources, and create additional opportunities for small farms and the rural economy.” 

In addition, a national voluntary generic research and promotion program will give farmers who produce organically a chance to redirect some of their earnings to organic-specific research and promotion rather than the marketing order programs they now must pay to that generally do not benefit them, she pointed out.

Organic agriculture, which still represents a small portion of U.S. agriculture, is growing at a fast rate. However, it is difficult to estimate how many farms are being managed organically due to the lack of government tracking to date. The U.S. market for organic food and beverage products has experienced 20 to 24 percent growth each year for more than the past decade, and is expected to continue to grow, particularly with full implementation of national organic standards in October.

May 1, 2002

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