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The U.S. Senate strongly approved a farm bill that includes funding and direction for a number of organic priorities reports the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
According to Caren Wilcox, executive director of the OTA said the current bill offers steps to help strengthen the safety net for organic farming producers and manufacturers.
Some measures being praised in the Senate bill include:
- Recognition that increased funding is essential for the National Organic Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the full authorized level;
- $5 million for organic farming data collection to help provide better price and yield information for organically-grown crops;
- $22 million in new money for certification cost share to aid organic farmers;
- USDA barred from charging a premium surcharge on organic farm crop insurance, unless validated by loss history on a crop-by-crop basis; Currently, organic producers must pay a 5% surcharge for crop insurance; yet, in times of loss, the producers receive not the usually higher organic crop price, but the lower conventional price.
- Organic production added as an eligible activity in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program;
- Soil and Water Conservation Protection Loans added as a priority for those converting to organic farming practices and adds conversion to organic production as an eligible loan purpose;
- $80 million over the life of the bill for organic agriculture research and extension.
The OTA encouraged continued support for these types of measures.