Organic farmers are only beginning to have the benefit of some USDA programs, including targeted data collection. Please support the proposed $500,000 for increased data collection in the FY 2004 Appropriations Bill. The trade needs it, and so do your organic farmers.
Annual retail food sales of organic products are passing $11 billion and have grown consistently, at a 20 percent annual rate, for over ten years. The National Organic Program (NOP) was fully implemented October 2002. USDA is now in a position to integrate the organic trade into its many programs. For instance, USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) has already produced a small but valuable study on U.S. organic production, and OTA has used it to show you your state's figures. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has 60 scientists working on organic projects, and the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is prepared to work on organic market price reporting.
It's a Great Time to Support Organic Production
With a modest increase in funding, ERS could research information about sales, more detailed production figures, and numbers of operations that would allow you to make more informed legislative decisions. ARS could develop a comprehensive research agenda, and AMS could provide organic farmers with the same kind of accurate, timely price reports conventional farmers have.
Decades of hard work by visionary organic farmers and other businesses have smoothed the way for other farms and related businesses to enter this growing sector of the economy. Thanks to these visionaries, farms and related businesses which employ your constituents can now reap the benefits of participating in the National Organic Program, so supporting organic farming and the National Organic Program increases business opportunities for your constituents.