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Letter of Opposition to HR 5326 - Organic Trade Association
Organic Trade Association
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Letter of Opposition to HR 5326

 

June 15, 2010


The Honorable Collin Peterson
House Committee on Agriculture
1301 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

The Honorable Frank Lucas
House Committee on Agriculture
1305 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Peterson and Ranking Member Lucas,

We are writing to express our opposition to HR 5326, introduced by Congressman Mike Conaway to repeal the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program.  Organic producers and handlers are highly opposed to this legislation, because cost share assistance is critical to the continued vitality and diversity of organic agricultural production.

The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program was created as part of the 2002 Farm Bill to assist small and mid-sized organic operations in paying for the annual certification process, which is a lengthy, expensive process required for the use of the USDA Organic label.    The Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) Organic Certification Cost Share Program, established in 2001 as part of the Agricultural Management Assistance Program, provides the same assistance as the national program but to the 16 states covered by AMA.  Together, these two programs make producers and handlers in all 50 states eligible to receive this important benefit. 

The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program provides assistance of 75% up to $750 of the total cost of certification per organic operation.  The Farm Bill provided a total of $22 million to fund this program over 5 years.  This is a relatively small investment when you consider that the organic industry grew at an average rate of 20% per year for 10 years, and still grew by 5% in 2009 to $26 billion in sales during one of the worst economic downturns in the country’s history.

Continued growth in the organic sector requires continued investment through the Cost-Share Program.  Repealing the program would significantly increase the barriers to organic production for farmers by making certification a prohibitively expensive process.  This would negatively impact small and mid-sized farmers as well as beginning farmers who view organic agriculture as a promising entry point into the agricultural sector because of organic agriculture’s lower start-up costs.

The Program works hand in hand with the Congress’ efforts to revitalize rural America and create economic opportunities in rural communities.  The economic activity generated by the rapid growth of organic agriculture encourages people to stay in their community instead of leaving to find employment in more urban areas. 

A common misconception is that the Cost-Share Program is subsidizing “hobby” farmers.  However, organic farmers that sell less than $5,000 per year are exempt from certification and the annual inspection process that the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program supports.  The Agriculture Census reports that 3,637 of the 14,540 organic farms in America are exempt.  The average American organic farm has annual sales of $217,675, much larger than what most people would consider hobby farms.

The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program has played an important role in the growth of organic agriculture.  Regardless of the size, organic farms provide multiple benefits to society through the reduction of pesticide loads, the improvement of rural economies, and the provision of healthy foods to Americans.  As organizations representing organic farmers, handlers and consumers, we urge you to oppose this bill and any future efforts to end the program. We thank you for your attention to this issue and look forward to working with you to continue making the organic sector an important part of American agriculture.

Sincerely,

 
Christine Bushway
CEO/ Executive Director
Organic Trade Association

Steve Etka
Legislative Director
National Organic Coalition

Bob Scowcroft
Executive Director
Organic Farming Research Foundation

Ferd Hoefner
Policy Director
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
 
Patricia Kane
Coordinator
Accredited Certifiers Association, Inc.

Robert Shumaker
President
Alaska Farmers Union

David Coker
President
Arkansas Farmers Union

Jay Feldman
Executive Director
Beyond Pesticides/NCAMP

Claudia Reid
Policy and Program Director
California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF)

Joaquin Contente
President
California Farmers Union

Lisa J. Bunin, Ph.D.
Organic Policy Coordinator
Center for Food Safety

Addy Elliott
Executive Director
Colorado Organic Producers Association

Marty Mesh
Executive Director
Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers, Inc (FOG)
Quality Certification Services (QCS)

Margaret Scoles
Executive Director
International Organic Inspectors Association

Chris Petersen
President
Iowa Farmers Union

Russell Libby
Executive Director
Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association

Faye Jones
Executive Director
Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service (MOSES)

Doug Peterson
President
Minnesota Farmers Union

Dave Carter
Executive Director
National Bison Association

Robynn Shrader
Chief Executive Officer
National Cooperative Grocers Association

Roger Johnson
President
National Farmers Union

Annie Cheatham
President
New England Farmers Union

Steve Gilman
Policy Coordinator
Northeast Organic Farming Association- Interstate Council

Kate Mendenhall
Executive Director
Northeast Organic Farming Association- New York

Alexis Baden-Mayer, Esq.
Political Director
Organic Consumers Association

La Rhea Pepper
Senior Director
Organic Exchange

Kent Peppler
President
Rocky Mountain Farmers Union

Doug Sombke
President
South Dakota Farmers Union

Brise Tencer
Washington Representative for Food & Environment
Union of Concerned Scientists

Darin Von Ruden,
President
Wisconsin Farmers Union

Thomas Harding
President
AgriSystems International


Melody L Meyer
Vice President of Global Initiatives
Albert's Organics

 
John Foraker
CEO
Annie’s, Inc.

Sally Keefe
Vice President of Government Affairs
Aurora Organic Dairy

John K. Ashby
General Manager – Ingredients
California Natural Products

Linda Shannon
President
Chartreuse Organic Tea

Lynn Clarkson
President
Clarkson Grain Company, Inc.

John DePaolis
Chief Cookie Officer
Country Choice Organic

Melissa Hughes
General Counsel/Director of
Government Affairs
CROPP Cooperative/Organic Valley
Family of Farms

Kim Davidson
President
Davidson Commodities, Inc.

Jenny Lester Moffitt
General Manager
Dixon Ridge Farms

Debbie Robbins
Vice President
Doguet’s Rice Milling Co.

David Bronner
President
Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps

David W. Montgomery, Jr.
President
DW Montgomery & Company

Keith Olcott
Organic Certification Coordinator
Equal Exchange, Inc.

Joel R. Henry
President & Founder
Fig Food Company, LLC

Tony Moore
Chief Flavorist
Flavor Producers Inc

George Kalogridis
President
GCK Group

Elizabeth Henderson
Farmer
Genesee Valley Organic Community Supported Agriculture

Julie Golden
Owner
Golden Vineyards

Paul Drake
Senior Trader
Grain Millers, Inc

David Vetter
President
Grain Place Foods, Inc.
Secretary
The Grain Place, Inc.

Marilyn Scott
President
Greenwear Corp

Rick Lejeune
CEO
Heath and Lejeune Inc.

Kelly Shea
Vice President Government & Industry Relations
Horizon Organic/Silk

Cissy Bowman
CEO
Indiana Certified Organic LLC

Mary-Howell Martens
Manager
Lakeview Organic Grain LLC

Larry Hirahara
Organic Farmer
Larry Hirahara Family Farm

Nicole Bernard Dawes
CEO
Late July Organic Snacks

Chris Coffman
CEO
Made In Nature LLC

Bonnie Wideman
Director
Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA)

Drew Kimmell
Managing Partner
Missouri Northern Pecan Growers LLC

Valerie Pearcy
Co-Owner and General Manager
Mod Green Pod

Leonard Mosher
CEO
Mosher Products Inc. 

Natalie Rotunda
National Organic Food Examiner


Sonya Dagovitz Kugler
President
Natural Needs LLC

David J. Engel
Executive Director
Nature's International Certification Services

Dag Falck
Organic Program Manager
Nature's Path Foods Inc.

Jylle Lardaro
Group Content Director
New Hope Natural Media

Richard H. Mathews
President/CEO
NOP Solutions, Inc.

Carol Goland
Executive Director
Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association

Gay Timmons
Owner
Oh, Oh Organic, Inc.

Sam Welsch
President
OneCert, Inc.

Bob Johnson
Founder
Organic Foods International, LLC

Jim Riddle
Owner
Organic Independents LLP

Lindsay Fernandez-Salvador
Review Program Manager
Organic Materials Review Institute

 

Jeffrey T. Vinson
President
Organic Partners International, LLC

Stacy Atchison
Publisher
Organic Processing Magazine

Josh Hinerfeld
CEO
Organically Grown Company 

Mack H. Graves
CEO
Panorama Meats, Inc.

Sarah Odenkirk,
Owner
Petite Miette, Inc.

Kristen Holt
President
Quality Assurance International (QAI)

Angela DeStefanis
Operations Manager
Rishi Tea

Rod Morrison
CEO
Rocky Mountain Organic Meats

Sheila Linderman
Organic Certification and Products Specialist
Sheila Linderman Consulting

Dennis Holbrook
President
South Tex Organics, LC

Bob Anderson
President
Sustainable Strategies, LLC

Bob Beauregard
General Manager
The Country Hen

Diane Dempster
President
Tilth Producers of Washington

T. Mark King
President
2 Sustain, Inc.

Matt McLean
CEO
Uncle Matt’s Organic

Michael Funk
Chairman
United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI)

Martin Beagle
Organic Program Manager
Washington State Department of Agriculture- Organic Program

Joe Levy
Owner
Yeoman Organics
                                                                      

 

 

 

CC:  House Committee on Agriculture

 
 
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