While lawmakers in Washington, D.C. debate the issue of where federal spending cuts will be made and to what extent, people in organic agricultural circles are wondering what this could mean for organic programs. For the first time, organic agriculture and specialty crops were singled out as being worthy of support under a new title of the 2008 Farm Bill, giving those commodities greater stature within the nation’s farm policy.
“Although we gained a lot through the new title, none of it was mandated funding. So the programs are all under huge potential of being cut,” says Claudia Reid, policy director for California Certified Organic Farmers, which certifies nearly 80 percent of the state’s organic crop acreage. “We will advocate to keep the programs in place during this current budget year and not to cut them.”
In addition to the Horticulture and Organic Agriculture Title, organic provisions were included in the conservation, trade, credit, research and crop insurance titles of the Farm Bill. Most of the mandatory funds were allocated to the two existing organic programs: The organic research program and the cost-share assistance program to help growers and handlers with organic certification costs.
Although the Obama administration asked for an increase of $3 million in 2012 for the National Organic Program – which would bring the total to almost $10 million – the existing funding is proposed to be cut under the continuing budget resolution now before Congress, says Elisa Noble, California Farm Bureau Federation director of natural resources and public lands.
California Farm Bureau Federation provided information for this article. For more details, go to www.cfbf.com.
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