Congressman LaMalfa Talks Farm Bill with Organic Producers

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When Congress takes its August recess and Members go home to their districts, it’s a great time to meet with them directly. This year, it’s an especially good time for farmers to express their thoughts directly on the farm bill coming for renewal in 2018. This week I had the pleasure of sitting in with organic growers from Butte County, California when they met with their Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Oroville).
Hosting the meeting were members of Lundberg Family Farms, organic rice producers and processors.  Other growers joining the meeting were Phil LaRocca of LaRocca Vineyards and CCOF Board of Directors Chair; Darrell Wood, President of Panorama Grass-Fed Meats; and Allen Harthorn of Harpos Organics and CCOF Foundation Board of Trustees Chair. Bryce Lundberg, Jessica Lundberg, and Tim Schultz represented Lundberg Family Farms. Schultz is also an OFRF Board Member. CCOF and OFRF staff rounded out the group.
The growers laid out their main concerns for the 2018 Farm Bill. Number one for all the growers was the topic of research and extension for organic systems. The growers asked the Congressman directly if he would co-sponsor the Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436), to reauthorize the USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and increase its funding to $50 million per year. He promised to look at it carefully and get back to us.
Also discussed were the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (essential for smaller organic producers), supporting the USDA National Organic Program’s enforcement efforts, and the crucial issues of farm labor policy.
The rapport and respect between these organic producers and the Congressman was plainly evident. As a lifetime resident of the area, LaMalfa grew up in the farming and ranching community and clearly understands the agriculture business. His district has a very strong organic farm economy, ranking fifteenth nationally among all Congressional districts for the size of its organic sector. 
As recess district meetings go, this was as good it gets. Thanks to Congressman LaMalfa, his staff, CCOF’s policy team, and especially the organic producers taking the time to do this vital work!
This article was submitted by Mark Lipson, originally published by OFRF.
Mark Lipson is a CCOF-certified organic producer (Molino Creek Farming Collective), a former CCOF staff member, former policy director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), and recently served as the USDA Organic Agriculture Policy Advisor in Washington D.C. Now he’s back at Molino Creek Farm, hoping for a good dry-farmed tomato crop this fall, and is OFRF’s senior policy and program specialist. Lipson is also currently a research associate with the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Farming Systems at University of California, Santa Cruz.