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Action Alerts

Action Alerts

Here you can find information on different policy initiatives that Florida Organic Growers is undertaking.

July 23, 2015

Say NO to the DARK Act

We need your voice again to speak out against the DARK Act! The House of Representatives is going to vote on this bill TODAY and we need you to tell your representatives to vote NO. With Monsanto and the Big Food industry pouring everything they’ve got into backing the DARK Act, your representatives need to hear from you now.

Let’s show Congress that American consumers are louder than these corporate bullies!

If passed, this law would FOREVER take away our right to choose what we feed our children, farmers’ right to grow their crop of choice, and our right to protect ourselves and our communities from dangerous chemicals. The DARK Act would rescind GE food labeling laws passed in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine and nullify over 135 state and local regulations that restrict the use of GE crops or pesticides.

In short, the DARK Act would:

  • Preempt all state GMO labeling efforts;
  • Make it virtually impossible for the Food and Drug Administration to ever require mandatory labeling nationwide;
  • Codify our broken voluntary labeling system;
  • Block states, counties and municipalities from regulating GMO crop production to protect human health and the environment.

Please call (202) 224-3121 to be connected to your representative today through the US Capitol switchboard, or click here to find your representative’s direct line.

Template Script: “Hello. I strongly want to know what is in the food I buy and feed my family. That is why I support the mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Unfortunately, some Members of Congress want to keep me in the dark by preempting state labeling laws and preventing the FDA from ever requiring labeling. That is why I urge you to oppose H.R. 1599, also known as the DARK Act.”


February 4, 2015

Child and Adult Care Food Programs (CACFP)

On January 9, the USDA’s Food Nutrition Services released a proposed rule to update the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) meal patterns.

Under the proposed changes, children and adults in day care will receive meals with a greater variety of fruits and vegetables, more whole grains, and less sugar and fat. These proposed changes will help ensure children have access to healthy, balanced meals throughout the day and may serve as a foundation for healthy choices for life.

This is the first time the CACFP meal patterns have been significantly revised since the program was created in 1968. FNS is proposing incremental changes that are achievable and do not increase costs for providers.

Click here for more information and to voice your comments!

 

January 8, 2015

Organic Survey

The 2014 Organic Survey is a complete inventory of all known organic producers that are certified, exempt from certification in the Unites States (those grossing less than $5,000 annually from organic sales), and those producers transitioning to organic production. This study serves as a census of all organic operations, as directed under the FY2014 Farm Appropriations Bill.

Your responses will provide important, detailed, unbiased information to help determine the economic impact of organic production at the national and state levels. According to the 2012 Census of Agriculture, total organic product sales by farms in the U.S. have continued to show substantial growth over the last few years, increasing by 83 percent since 2007. Additionally, the sales from 14,326 farms with certified or exempt organic production totaled over $3.1 billion in 2012. Data published from the 2014 Organic Survey will help provide the industry with a reliable source of timely information to use in justifying research projects and fund requests to benefit producers.

Who will use the data published from the Organic Survey?

The agriculture industry and all levels of government use the information to prepare a wide variety of organic agriculture-related programs, economic models, legislative initiatives, and market analysis and feasibility studies. Organic survey image
These programs directly affect the life and communities of growers and help to improve agriculture production technologies and practices. Specific examples of benefits to producers include

  • Agencies such as USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA) use the data to evaluate and establish crop insurance programs for organic producers
  • Farm organizations use the information to lobby Congress or state legislatures for funding and support of organic production programs
  • Government, extension, and university scientists use the information to determine research needs
  • The information could be used to calculate disaster payments for producers
  • Suppliers to the organic industry use the data to plan production and marketing of new products

How will the survey be conducted?

Survey forms will be mailed in early January to approximately 17,000 producers nationwide. Responses are due by mail by February 13, 2015 or online by April 3, 2015. To ensure the most complete and accurate accounting of organic agriculture in the United States, the 2014 Organic Survey is a census of all known U.S. certified and exempt organic operations that are currently on NASS’s list frame from the 2011 Certified Organic Survey and the 2012 Census of Agriculture, as well as new certified organic entities obtained from the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

For more information, please visit the USDA Census of Agriculture website.
December 15, 2014

FOG files comments with FDA regarding the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) re-proposed rules

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has, for the second time, proposed new rules that will have a huge impact on how food – especially fresh fruits and vegetables – is grown and processed in the US.  This is a big deal for farmers and eaters! Everyone has a role in ensuring safe food from field to fork – but FDA’s new proposed rules, though a significant improvement on their first attempt, still unfairly burden family farmers, undermine sustainability, and could reduce the availability of fresh, local food in our communities.

We submitted comments to the FDA on December 15 to tell the FDA this is unacceptable and that further improvements are critical.

Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0921
RIN 0910-AG35 

Florida Certified Organic Growers & Consumers, Inc (FOG) is a non‐profit organization dedicated to educating about and furthering the understanding and adoption of organic and sustainable agriculture. We are actively involved in many levels of our food system, from working with home gardeners, commercial farmers, food systems improvement projects, policy evaluation, advocacy and social justice work.  Our work is of importance to and affects thousands of people and the farmers and handling operations that we work with help feed millions. The organization also operates a separate USDA, ISO, ANSI, GLOBAL.G.A.P. certification program which certifies approximately 985 clients in 37 states and 11 countries. The certification program is accredited to perform USDA National Organic Program, GLOBALG.A.P, Food Justice and other food safety and ethical certifications for qualified operations.

No farmer wants to make someone sick and FOG values and supports the work of FDA and its mission to protect public health by assuring the safety and security of our nation’s food supply. We commented on the first proposed rules and appreciate the opportunity to comment on these reproposed rules.  We continue to have several concerns with how the final rule will affect our Nation’s food and farming future, including the effort to strengthen local food systems, family scale farming, growing the next generation of farmers, and encouraging practices that not only produce healthy food but do so in a way to respect and protect the environment.

While the original proposed rules, which we commented on and participated in discussions shaping other comments, focused only on microbiological contamination, we again ask FDA to please expand its scope to look beyond the acute food safety risks associated with the presence of microorganisms and thoroughly investigate the possible human and clearly evident environmental risk of genetically modified crops and chemical contamination from pesticides and synthetic hormones. Over the long term, exposure to pesticides has been linked to cancers, damage to brain function, and harm to the body’s reproductive, developmental and hormone systems.

These are uniquely modern food safety problems that a truly comprehensive Food Safety Modernization Act must address. For a FSMA to turn a blind eye to GMO and pesticide health effects and to not anticipate the widespread spraying of millions of pounds of 2‐4‐D as Round Up resistant weeds are now commonplace would be a disservice to the public and future generations. A clear fact that the average lifespan age of the US population is 74 years and the average farmworker life expectancy age is 49 years should tell FDA that food safety and application and use of toxic and often carcinogenic pesticides should not be separated in discussion about food safety.

It is our belief that the intent of Congress was for FSMA to be applied to larger risk operations that by far pose the greatest threat of food safety hazards. It is imperative that FDA write a final rule that embraces the spirit of the law and allows for an honest and fair exemption or modified requirement to small farms who sell directly to consumers and through short supply chains and understand that small farms working together to provide food are a much smaller risk than huge operations distributing nationwide and the concept of risk based and scale appropriate need to be part of finalizing FSMA regulations.

FOG is a member of and has been an actively involved participant in the development of and discussion of comments from several national organizations. We contributed to the extensive drafting discussions and support the comprehensive comments submitted by the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) of whom we are a represented member as well as the Organic Trade Association (OTA). FOG was involved with but have some differences with the comments submitted by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) whose comments tried to reflect all of Florida’s diverse agriculture interests and thus we feel the need to make clear our perspective and strongly align with the more detailed, thorough, specific, and technical NSAC comments which will be submitted listing our organization as a represented member. However, even as the NSAC comments identify further concerns, we felt the need to bring up even more macro concerns such as pesticide exposure and use and GMOs and their safety and environmental safety threats and record.

Florida Organic Growers supports the overall efforts of the FDA in helping to ensure safe food for all Americans and we appreciate FDA’s willingness to engage in outreach, conversation, and request for input and comment.

Sincerely,

Marty Mesh, Executive Director
Florida Certified Organic Growers & Consumers, Inc ( FOG)
Gainesville, Florida
marty@foginfo,org

November 17, 2014

Tell the FDA: Let a farm be a farm!

Fresh, local carrots on a middle school salad bar. Perfectly ripe strawberries at your farmers market. Salad mix from the farm down the road in the grocery aisle. Is this the kind of food you like to be able to buy in your community, have in your kitchen, and see on your kids’ lunch trays at school?

Farmers across the country have been innovating with new, creative approaches to get these kinds of fresh, healthy foods to people affordably wherever they shop and eat, and – even better – to do it while using sustainable and organic growing practices.

There’s a catch, though: remember last year when we sounded the alarm about new food safety regulations by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and how they could make sustainable and organic agriculture, local food, and farm conservation efforts collateral damage? Well, we’ve got some good news and some bad news.

The good news is that FDA received tens of thousands of comments from concerned citizens like you – and they took farmers’ and eaters’ comments seriously, even agreeing to re-draft several key sections of the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) rules.

The bad news is that we’ve seen the new draft, and while they did make some critical improvements, the improvements don’t go far enough. FDA still doesn’t quite get what it means to be a farmer.

 YOUR VOICE MATTERS: COMMENT TODAY!

As someone who cares about sustainable food and farms, we need your help to tell FDA: let a farm be a farm!

  • Farms innovate. Don’t let the rules squash farmers’ innovative efforts in growing
    and selling local food
    .  The rules need to ensure that local food and farms can grow and thrive.
  • Farms work with nature. Don’t let the rules undermine farmers’ sustainability. The rules need to allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices. 
  • Farms deserve fair treatment. Don’t let the rules raise costs for farmers, food businesses, and consumers by imposing unclear, inconsistent, and unfair rules. The rules need to provide options that treat family farms fairly without unnecessary, excessive costs.

We need to act now — these new rules will have a devastating impact on the farmers and businesses responsible for putting fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods on America’s dinner plates – which, in turn, affects our health and well being.

STAND WITH FARMERS AND COMMENT TODAY!


February 27, 2014

Voice your concerns about GMO contamination

The USDA currently has two comment periods open on decisions that will have serious and long lasting impacts on our food supply and the spread of GMO’s. The first concerns agricultural “coexistence” or how GMO and non-GMO crops can grow side by side. The second concerns the approval of the use of 2,4-D resistant corn and soy bean plants. These are separate decisions but both offer a chance for you to voice your concern or opinion with the USDA’s unwillingness to seriously regulate GMO’s, denying choice to America’s farmers and consumers.

“Coexistence”

It only takes a speck of pollen to spread the genes from GMO to organic and other non-GMO farms. Companies that own those genes don’t take any responsibility for the contamination and the damage it causes. Farmers whose crops have been contaminated must shoulder all of the costs and burdens of trying to prevent contamination and not only stand to lose income, but are even at risk of being sued for patent infringement by biotech companies!

Farmers deserve to have choice in what they grow and sell!

Now is an opportunity to start to change how our government regulates GMO technology and to hold biotech companies accountable.

The USDA is accepting public comments on recommendations concerning agricultural “coexistence” or how GMO and non-GMO crops can grow side by side, without threatening the other. But make no mistake, until the USDA protects non-GMO farmers and concerned consumers from contamination, there can be no “coexistence.” We need real, mandatory measures that prevent GMO contamination, and the assurance that companies like Monsanto, not farmers, will be held accountable for the serious impacts of GMO contamination.

Let your voice be heard and submit your comment to the USDA today! 

Tell Secretary Vilsack to use his authority to fully investigate the state of contamination in our seed and food supply and reform USDA’s weak framework for regulating GMOs and evaluate their safety as well as their potential for economic harm. The USDA should prevent GMO contamination now by issuing mandatory contamination prevention measures and make biotech pay for contamination. Non-GMO farmers deserve fair compensation when contamination occurs and should not be the ones forced to purchase additional crop insurance to protect themselves, as currently proposed.

Go to http://sustainableagriculture.net/take-action/coexist/ now for step by step instructions on how to comment or comment immediately to the USDA hereYou only have till March 4!

 2,4-D Resistant Corn and Soy Beans

Make corn and soybeans resistant to Roundup, spray Roundup everywhere, weeds become resistant to Roundup, make corn and soy beans resistant to main ingredient of Agent Orange, spray everywhere, wait for weeds to become resistant. This seems to strategy of big Ag, and USDA is doing nothing to stop them. Roundup ready crops were released in 1994 and, after 20 years of regular spraying glyphosate to maintain the monoculture, there are now glyphosate resistant weeds covering 60 million acres of American farmland.  Instead of looking towards more sustainable weed management techniques being pioneered by organic farmers across the country, the USDA announced it would allow the release of Dow AgroSciences new genetically modified corn and seeds which are designed specifically to be used with Dow’s infamous herbicide 2,4-D which was a major component of Agent Orange and initially developed as a chemical weapon during World War II.

There is little chance the USDA will rescind its decision to allow 2,4-D resistant corn and soy beans and there are reports that salesman are already pushing the seeds on farmers throughout the Midwest.

But let’s not give up the fight! Submit your comment to the USDA today

Before the decision is final, join the voices of hundreds of thousands of other citizens urging USDA to keep 2,4-D resistant seeds off the market.

Tell USDA that we don’t need more seed bred for a companion herbicide. We need more seed bred for low-input systems that are adapted to diverse regions, ecologies, climates, and markets.

Read more about 2,4-D resistant crops on the Union of Concerned Scientists website here and Pesticide Action Networks website here. And then go here to submit your comment to the USDA. You only have till March 11!

Let’s make sure the USDA knows we are watching and won’t stand for the continued destruction of natural resources in the name of giant agribusinesses’ profits!


January 29, 2014

Recently proposed farm bill leaves out several vital reforms

The much anticipated passage of the farm bill was reported yesterday by the conference committee in Washington, D.C. and, while passing much needed programs, it leaves many vital reforms behind.

The bill renews funding for a number of important programs that were left stranded by last year’s farm bill extension, but fails to make much-needed reforms in the structure of farm policy. Most importantly, the bill discards the long-overdue payment limitation reforms included in both the House- and Senate-passed bills last year that target farm subsidy payments to working farmers.

“I am very saddened at the lack of real structural reform in the farm bill,” said Marty Mesh, executive director of Florida Organic Growers. “The most obvious issue left out of the farm bill is payment reform. This will cost hundreds of millions in an already challenging fiscal time.  However, I am thankful for the new programs for beginning farmers, support of local food systems and increase of healthy food access, including supporting incentives for SNAP (food stamp) participants to have increased access to healthier foods.”

Mesh adds, “We have been working on the 2012 Farm Bill since 2009. Movement is finally happening in 2014, two years after it was supposed to pass. The process has been long and arduous. We will continue to push for real structural reform moving forward.”

The proposed bill also drops a provision passed twice by the Senate that would have modestly reduced insurance subsidies to millionaires.  Additionally, the bill cuts billions from the very conservation programs that help farmers address production challenges and protect natural resources and the environment.  The final bill also reduces benefits for a portion of SNAP (food stamp) participants which will impact more than 3.3 million participants in Florida.

The bill does renew critical investments in important programs for beginning farmers, local food systems, organic agriculture, and healthy food access, and also relinks conservation requirements to the receipt of crop insurance premium subsidies.  The final bill also rejects a series of extreme proposals to eliminate market and contract protections for livestock and poultry farmers.

“At a time of fiscal restraint, growing income inequality, and economic distress in rural communities, it is appalling for the new farm bill to continue uncapped, unlimited commodity and crop insurance subsidies for mega-farms,” said Ferd Hoefner, Policy Director with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.  “The backroom deal to reverse the reforms backed by a bipartisan majority of the both the House and the Senate is an affront to the democratic process.”

January 9, 2014

A New Year, a New Farm Bill? 

Do you believe in fairness for farmers?

SwallowTail Farm workshop_revWe sure do. We’re talking about common-sense basics here:  ensuring independent growers have a fair crack in the marketplace against Big Ag and closing loopholes so mega-farms can’t rake in excessive subsidies that they don’t need.

The time to fight for the rights of our nation’s independent producers against abuses by large corporations, and for common-sense, long overdue reforms to our nation’s commodity subsidy programs, is right now.  A small group of Senators and Representatives is meeting this week to negotiate the final version of a new farm bill. This may be our last chance to make changes that this bill desperately needs in order to work for sustainable farmers and a better food & farm future.

Your voice matters – speak out today!

There’s so much at stake right now. For one, Big Ag is trying to push through an amendment that would strip farmers and ranchers of basic legal protections against unfair treatment at the hands of large corporations  (like retaliation , where a corporation can bankrupt a farmer for raising a grievance ). If Big Ag wins and USDA can’t enforce what’s known as the GIPSA rule, independent meat and poultry producers have no legal protection against outright abuse.

Adding insult to injury: long-overdue, common-sense subsidy reforms that will save taxpayers money and were supported by Democrats AND Republicans approved by bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate last year are on the chopping block in these behind- the- scenes negotiations! Limiting subsidies and eliminating loopholes in the commodity programs – known as payment limitation reform – will keep mega-farms from abusing the system. And majorities in the House and Senate have already approved identical reform provisions.  Yet still a handful of dedicated opponents are fighting tooth and nail to strip out the reforms.

We need your help:  your legislator sits on the powerful farm bill conference committee – and that committee is meeting NOW. Your phone call will make a difference!

Can we count on you to make a call today?  Get everything you need to send an email or make a call now.

Let’s not let these huge issues slip through the cracks in the final hours – this may be our last best chance  to make a difference on the farm bill!
November 21, 2013

 Florida Certified Organic Growers and Consumers (FOG) has submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in response to the proposed Food Safety Modernization Act.  Comments were submitted regarding issues in the proposed Produce Rule and issues in the proposed Preventative Controls Rule.

The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is the first major overhaul of our nation’s food safety practices since 1938, and it includes new regulations for produce farms and for facilities that  process food for people to eat.

Florida Organic Growers supports the efforts to create a safer food system however FSMA could be incredibly detrimental to small and sustainable and organic farms.

You can view FOG’s comments to each rule below.

Comments on Issues in the Proposed Produce Rule

Comments on Issues in the Proposed Preventive Controls Rule


October 7, 2013

Monsanto executive slated to win World Food Prize amidst controversy – Florida Organic Growers encouraging signatures on petition 

On October 16, 2013, a Monsanto executive is slated to win this year’s “Nobel Prize of agriculture” – the prestigious World Food Prize – for creating GMOs.  Receiving this award not only validates the rampant genetic modification Monsanto pioneered but helps endorse a business model that impoverishes farmers and monopolizes our food.

In addition, the founder of Syngenta, the biotech giant that joined Bayer in suing Europe to keep selling bee-killing pesticides, will also win the prize.

We cannot allow this prize to legitimize GMOs and bee killers. We have to act now!

“It is indeed obscene that such an honor and prize would not go to someone who has helped farmers around the world recognize and refine the art of seed saving, soil building and increasing biodiversity of practices that truly protect the earth’s fragile resources,” said Marty Mesh, Executive Director of Florida Organic Growers. “Instead, the award is being given to two of the largest chemical and biotech companies whose goal is not preserving resources but increasing short and long term profits by selling more chemicals tied to the use of their patented seeds.”

Florida Organic Growers is part of a group of 73 American organic and conventional family farmers, seed businesses and public advocacy groups asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case against Monsanto Company challenging the chemical and biotech seed giant’s patents on genetically engineered seed.

In Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) et al v. Monsanto, the plaintiffs have been forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should their fields ever become contaminated by Monsanto’s genetically engineered seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past.

Sign the petition TODAY and tell the World Food Prize Foundation that Monsanto and bee-killer Syngenta do not deserve to win the award for their outrageous practices.

ACT NOW!

——————————————–

October 2, 2013

We need YOU to help make a difference for the Food Safety Modernization Act! 

Fresh lettuce and organic blueberries from the farmers market. Spicy pickles made from local cucumbers. Juicy tomatoes in Florida’s school cafeterias. If you’re anything like me, this is the kind of food you like to be able to buy in your community, have in your kitchen, and see on your kids’ lunch trays at school. And farmers and entrepreneurs throughout Florida and across the country have been making huge strides in the last few years to get more healthy, local, sustainably produced food into communities everywhere.

However, much of this progress toward building a better food and farm future could literally be wiped out by new regulations proposed this year by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In its push to write new food safety rules based on the Food Safety Modernization Act passed by Congress, FDA is threatening to make sustainable and organic agriculture, local food, and farm conservation efforts collateral damage. As currently written, the rules will:

  • put many farms out of business;
  • reduce the supply of fresh, local produce in schools and hospitals;
  • push farmers to tear out wildlife habitat; and
  • increase the use of chemicals rather than natural fertilizers.

Everyone has a role in ensuring our nation’s food is safe – from the farmers who grow it to the folks who take it home and prepare it. But unless we act now, these new rules will have a devastating impact on the farmers and businesses responsible for putting fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods on America’s dinner plates – which, in turn, affects our health and well being.

You know your farmer, you know your food –

Now stand up for your farmer, stand up for your food!

As they’re currently written, these proposed regulations will unfairly burden family farmers, penalize sustainable and organic farming practices, and reduce the availability of fresh, local food in our communities.  They’ll make it harder for beginning farmers to get started, harder to get healthy food into schools, and harder for us to fight nationwide public health challenges like diabetes. Right now, we have a chance to tell FDA that this is unacceptable – and we need your help to do it.

Speak out today on the Food Safety Modernization Act! 

FDA is seeking comments from the public – that’s you! Everyone needs to speak out and tell FDA that the new Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) regulations must: 

  • Allow farmers to use sustainable farming practices, including those already allowed and encouraged by existing federal organic standards and conservation programs;
  • Ensure that diversified and innovative farms – particularly those pioneering models for increased access to healthy, local foods – continue to grow and thrive without being stifled; and
  • Provide options that treat family farms fairly, with due process and without excessive costs.

The deadline for comments is NOVEMBER 15.

The Food and Drug Administration will accept comments submitted online or through the mail. It is important to personalize your comment – FDA will read every single submission, and unique comments have the most impact.

Step 1 – Submit your comment in TWO places – to the Produce Rule and to the Preventative Controls Rule. This is important because these issues affect both rules. You can get extra help with instructions for using regulations.gov and for mailing a comment here

Step 2 – Take a stand publicly and sign our FSMA petition!

—————————————–

September 19, 2013

Support Organic Programs in the Farm Bill

As the current Farm Bill is set to expire at the end of September, we are urging the House Agriculture Committee  leadership to support key organic programs that are treated differently in the House and Senate Farm Bills, and will be negotiated in the upcoming Farm Bill Conference Committee discussions.

We urge you to customize this letter and send it to your area representative in support of organic programs in the Farm Bill. The deadline to submit the letter is Friday, September 20, 2013.

—————————————–

Dear House Farm Bill Conferee:

As you prepare for Farm Bill Conference deliberations with the Senate, we are writing to thank you for your efforts to achieve a 5-year Farm Bill reauthorization, and to ask you to renew key investments in organic agriculture as part of any final Farm Bill legislation.

Organic is one of the most promising and fastest growing sectors in U.S. agriculture today, with over 17,500 operations that keep family farmers on the land and provide jobs and opportunities in rural America.  Underpinned by a strong entrepreneurial ethic, the sector grew by over 10 percent last year and reached $35 billion in sales.  Currently, domestic demand for organic food and beverages exceeds domestic production.

There is a critical set of national programs that provide research, data analysis, farmer assistance, and regulatory oversight so that the organic industry can continue to flourish.  Unfortunately, the short-term Farm Bill extension enacted on January 1st of this year failed to fund any of these important organic programs.  No other sector of agriculture was as hard-hit by this funding hiatus as the organic sector, which makes renewed funding for these programs as part of the 2013 Farm Bill or any extension of current law even more critical.

We urge you to include the following program funding levels and provisions in any final Farm Bill legislation:

The Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) is a USDA competitive grants program dedicated to the growing needs of the organic community. OREI has a proven track record of addressing the unique research challenges that organic farmers and processors face.  In the 2008 Farm Bill, OREI was funded at $20 million in mandatory funding annually.  The House-passed farm bill maintains this level while the Senate-passed bill provides just $16 million annually in mandatory funding.  Particularly in light of the one-year gap in funding for fiscal year 2013 for OREI as a result of the short-term Farm Bill extension, we are urging House conferees to insist on the House position on this matter to provide the full $20 million in mandatory funding annually for the program.

Organic Certification Cost-Share Assistance is critical to ensuring that domestic organic production does not go overseas by offsetting some of the cost of annual organic certification – a growing cost faced by all organic farmers and handlers.  Two federal programs provide organic certification cost share assistance – the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP) and the Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA) program – with each program serving different states and using different parameters.  The House Farm bill repeals the NOCCSP, and leaves the organic certification portion of the AMA program, which has permanent authorization through the Federal Crop Insurance Reform Act, unchanged.  The Senate bill streamlines the two programs under the umbrella of the AMA program, creating efficiencies in program management and delivery.  We strongly urge House conferees to adopt  the Senate position with regard to  Agricultural Management Assistance (AMA).

The National Organic Program (NOP) performs regulatory oversight and maintains the integrity of the USDA organic label.  It is essential to maintain this program to hold producers accountable to the high standards of the organic label and to ensure consumers can have confidence in the organic products they purchase.  The Senate 2013 Farm Bill authorizes annual appropriations for the NOP, and also provides $5 million in one-time mandatory funding for technology and database upgrades for NOP so that the program can keep pace with growth in the organic sector and provide improved domestic and international oversight.  Although this funding was provided in the House Agriculture Committee’s 2012 Farm Bill, it was not included in the 2013 House bill.  We are urging House conferees to adopt the Senate provisions with regard to NOP funding.

The Organic Production Market and Data Initiatives (ODI) is USDA’s multi-agency organic data collection initiative that collects information vital to maintaining stable markets, creating risk management tools, tracking production trends, and increasing exports.  Like conventional agriculture, the organic industry cannot continue to thrive and maintain stable markets without good data collection.  The Senate 2013 Farm Bill authorizes annual appropriations for the ODI, and also provides $5 million in one-time mandatory funding for the program.  Although this funding was provided in the House Agriculture Committee’s 2012 Farm Bill, it was not included in the 2013 House bill.  We are urging House conferees to adopt the Senate provisions with regard to ODI funding.

Organic agriculture is a growing industry that provides jobs throughout the supply chain – from farm fields to Main Street businesses.  Although organic programs are a very small part of the hundreds of billions of dollars that will be invested through this Farm Bill, they are critical programs that address unique needs.  The failure to fund all of the Farm Bill organic programs and initiatives as part of short-term Farm Bill extension has placed these organic business at a gross disadvantage that must be addressed in any Farm Bill legislation enacted this year.

We ask that you support the organic sector’s growth by reauthorizing the key programs and making the modest investments listed above.

Sincerely,

 

——————————————-

Farm Bill 2012:

farmbill

Florida Organic Growers and National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition support a platform for the Farm Bill that will protect the environment, support family farmers, and create jobs. FOG supports the inclusion of the Local Farms, Food, and Jobs Act as a marker bill in the Farm Bill 2012. This marker bill will help family farms and support local farm opportunities. The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act is a bipartisan marker bill that gives new farmers financial support in the first 10 years of business.

Contact your elected officials:

http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/myrepresentative.aspx?Address=&City=&Zip5=&

UPDATE:

Farm Bill Fails in the House

June 20th, 2013

This afternoon, the House of Representatives failed to pass a farm bill by a vote of 195-234. After a lengthy debate yesterday and this morning on farm bill amendments, House GOP leadership and the leaders of the House Agriculture Committee were not able to secure enough votes to pass the bill.

During this morning’s debate, the House passed by a vote of 230-194 an NSAC-backed amendment by Representative Fortenberry (R-NE) to limit commodity payments and close eligibility loopholes in commodity programs.  The Senate-passed farm bill includes these same commonsense reforms.  It was the first time that an amendment to include commodity payment limit reform in a farm bill was adopted by the full House.  The vote bodes well both for the specific outcome and for sending the message that more subsidy reform is needed to pass a farm bill.

This morning the House also resoundingly defeated amendments by Representatives McClintock (R-CA) and Schweikert (R-AZ) that attacked local and regional food systems and healthy food access.  The McClintock amendment would have eliminated the Farmers Market and Local Food Promotion Program, and was defeated by a vote of 156-269.  The Schweikert amendment that would have eliminated the Healthy Food Financing Initiative failed by a vote of 194-232.

House passage of a food stamp amendment by Representative Southerland (R-FL) to allow states to add work requirements to the SNAP program, adopted just prior to the vote on the bill as a whole, helped doom any chance the bill had of gaining more than a handful of Democratic votes, though even without that amendment it appears the bill would have been defeated.

It is unclear what the path forward now is for the 2013 Farm Bill.