This is a big deal.
Organic Farming Research Foundation Hails Historic USDA Plan To Aid Farmers and Ranchers with Organic Transition
Santa Cruz, CA
Background: The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service today announced plans to provide $50 million in 2009 to help farmers and ranchers throughout the country transition to organic production systems. The funds will be distributed through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), and will be available to farmers or ranchers working to transition new acreage or livestock to an organic system.
The Santa Cruz-based Organic Farming Research Foundation’s policy team played a key role in the Farm Bill effort to win organic transition funding.
OFRF Reaction: Today OFRF’s Senior Policy Analyst Mark Lipson called the USDA’s announcement a tremendous victory for the organic community and the environment.
“Throughout last year’s Farm Bill fight, we worked hard to ensure organic farmers and ranchers a voice at the policy table in Washington. Today we are reaping the fruits of our advocacy.”
“The USDA funding is historic. It signals federal recognition of the tremendous contributions organic agriculture makes to the health of our environment. Better water quality, enhanced bio-diversity, protection of bees and other pollinators, and increased carbon storage in our soil are all benefits of organic production.”
“The EQIP transition contracts are geared for small- and medium-scale family farms and ranches and will speed the move toward more organic acreage. Our challenge now is to let producers know they must act quickly to take advantage of the program. The NRCS will be only be accepting applications for a three-week period, beginning May 11, 2009,” said Lipson.
OFRF’s Executive Director Bob Scowcroft characterized the $50 million funding plan as one of the biggest policy successes of the organization’s 19 years of advocacy.
“This move turns the corner for EQIP, setting it on a path toward producing organic solutions to the environmental challenges we face on our farms and ranches. We have to thank our key Congressional allies: Senators Harkin, Leahy and Tester. Senator Gillibrand also played an important role in her previous position in the House, along with Rep. Cardoza. Their support was crucial in creating this conversion program and encouraging the actions announced today,” said Scowcroft.
The Organic Farming Research Foundation was founded in 1990 to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF sponsors organic farming research and education projects, disseminates the results to organic farmers and to growers interested in adopting organic production systems, and educates the public and policymakers about organic farming issues. The majority of OFRF’s board members are working organic farmers. Learn more about OFRF’s work at www.ofrf.org.