Federal Activity on Organic Abounds

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Since the farm bill has been signed by President Obama, CCOF is looking forward to implementation of the programs that support the organic sector.

Meanwhile, organic efforts are moving forward on many federal fronts. Here are the details:

  1. The Agricultural Marketing Service, home agency of the USDA National Organic Program, mailed an organic Market News survey to 12,000 certified organic, transitional, and exempt producers earlier in February. Survey questions focus on how organic producers acquire market information, how they price and sell their products, and to what degree they use AMS’s Market News, an online price reporting service. If you received a survey, we encourage you to fill it out and send it back in by the deadline of March 15.
  2. Crop insurance rules have been revised so that organic crop insurance policies are more fair than they used to be. The previously levied 5 percent surcharge will no longer be charged. Policyholders are also now eligible to receive organic prices instead of conventional prices for losses in 16 crops, including oats, peppermint, apricots, apples, blueberries, almonds, pears, and grapes for juice. There is a new contract price option for 62 organic crops, available to organic producers who grow crops under guaranteed contracts. And, Risk Management Agency is phasing in changes to organic transitional yields to better reflect the actual organic farming experience. For more information, contact an authorized insurance agent. Please note that the sales closing date for most crops is March 15.
  3. Now that the farm bill logjam has been cleared, the few federal programs that benefit the organic sector are being revitalized with a new promise of funding. One of these is the Organic Transitions program, a $4 million pot of money dedicated to fund research, education, and extension that will improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices. In fiscal year 2014, the Organic Transitions program will continue to prioritize environmental services provided by organic farming systems in the area of soil conservation, pollinator health, and climate change mitigation, including greenhouse gases. It will also support development of educational tools for Cooperative Extension personnel and other agricultural professionals who advise producers on organic practices. One additional priority is to fund the development of cultural practices and other allowable alternatives to substances recommended for removal from the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. Field research must be conducted on certified organic land. Only colleges and universities are eligible to apply. If you know any researchers or Extension personnel, encourage them to conduct an organic project and put these funds to good use. Proposals are due April 4. More details on this funding opportunity.