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Organic Consumers Association

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Congress Allocates $5 Million for Organic Farming Research

Web Note by Ronnie Cummins:

Since the yearly budget of the USDA is $90 billion (yes billion, not million) this expanded allocation for organic farming research (from last year's paltry $1.8 million to $5 million) is not exactly a Great Leap Forward for organics, the fastest growing, healthiest, and most sustainable component of American food & farming. This is a perfect example of why the nation's 50 million organic consumers have got to get better organized and make our message heard in Washington. Organics represents 2.5% of all grocery sales, and we deserve at least 2.5% of all USDA program monies. For example conventional agriculture got $23 billion in crop subsidies last year, while organic crops got little or nothing. The major reason there is a greater demand for organics today than there is a domestic supply, is because the USDA offers no subsidies to help American family farmers and ranchers make the transition to organic--unlike Europe, where this type of subsidy is common.


News Flash

As a first step in the long process of garnering additional funds for organic farming research, the U.S. House of Representatives today passed an amendment to its Agriculture Appropriations Bill that would increase funding for an organic research competitive grant program. OTA along with the Organic Farming Research Foundation, NOFA and other groups involved in sustainable agriculture have been seeking additional funding for organic programs through the yearly appropriations process.

The amendment increases funding from $1.8 million to $5 million for organic research. The amendment was co-sponsored by Representatives Rush Holt (D-NJ-12), Peter DeFazio (D-OR-04), Ron Kind (D-WI-03), and Jim Leach (R-IA-02). The funding would support the Organic Transitions Program that funds the development and implementation of research, extension, and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic producers. The Organic Transitions Program is administered through the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service's (CSREES) Integrated Organic Program.

The House is expected to vote on its entire Agriculture Appropriations Bill today. The U.S. Senate still must vote through committee and a floor vote. Once the Senate votes on its agriculture appropriations bill, a conference committee of House and Senate members then will reconcile differences between the two. Once agreed upon, it will be passed to the President to sign. Holding this increased funding until final passage of Agriculture Appropriations for 2007 will entail much work.

To see OTA's organic appropriations recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2007, go to http://www.ota.com/Appropriations2007.html.

Many thanks to OTA members who called their representative in Congress to ask for his or her support of this amendment. This action in the House is a good example of the results that can be achieved when OTA members participate in OTA advocacy efforts, such as Congressional Education Day, Spring Hill visits, and Bring Your Legislator to Work month. All of these activities have helped elevate awareness of the importance of organic agriculture, and go a long way to increasing Congressional support for organic farmers and the organic business community.

The Organic News Flash is published by the Organic Trade Association as a service to its members. Organic Trade Association, P.O. Box 547, Greenfield, MA 01302. Phone: 413-774-7511; fax: 413-774-6432; e-mail: info@ota.com; web: www.ota.com.



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