Support Increased Funding for USDA Organic Initiatives
As organic production and consumption grows, USDA will need to integrate organic programs more fully into its operations. Once the final rule is implemented October 21, 2002, this integration should be much easier. In the meantime, agencies working with organic programs will need more money to carry out their duties effectively.
USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service’s (AMS) National Organic Program (NOP) needs funds targeted for the technical review of materials to determine their suitability for use in organic production. AMS’s Audit Review and Compliance Branch needs funds targeted for the accreditation of organic certification agencies, especially internationally, as there were many more applicants for this program than USDA expected. With the growing role of organic production, AMS also needs funds for increased coordination with not only other USDA programs, but other government agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms.
Agricultural Research Service studies have confirmed various ecological benefits of organic production. More funds are needed for basic research studies to support this ecologically friendly method of agricultural production.
Both USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) and National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) should receive funding targeted to including data points on organic production as part of all of their economic research and analysis programs.
The Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service needs funds targeted for developing and implementing programs explaining the costs and benefits of organic production. Economic information needs to be shared with farmers to benefit not only organic farmers but also conventional farmers who are considering making the transition to organic production.
The Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) will administer the new Conservation Security Program (CSP), which OTA anticipates will benefit the many organic farmers who already employ many or all of the practices targeted for payment under the CSP. OTA hopes that NRCS specifies organic farmers for outreach. OTA calls on Congress to monitor this exciting new approach to rewarding environmentally beneficial agricultural practices, such as organic agriculture.