In the last days of December and the beginning of January, Congress and the White House passed legislation to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” They attached language to the legislation that extends provisions of the 2008 Farm Bill for nine months, giving themselves until September 2013 to write a new farm bill. Unfortunately for farmers across the nation, this farm bill does not actually extend all programs and leaves many growers high and dry. Organic farmers were hit particularly hard by this move as no funding was provided for the Organic Data Initiative (which provides for price reporting and other economic indicators on the organic sector) or the Organic Research and Extension Initiative. Perhaps most significant for CCOF members, there is no funding for the National Organic Certification Cost Share program.
The extension also failed to provide needed support for key programs that support local foods, beginning farmers and ranchers, and rural development. Long-proposed subsidy reforms were also not made. We are tremendously disappointed by this sloppy effort to extend farm bill programs; it is a huge setback for the organic sector.
CCOF remains committed to working with our members, allies, and political representatives to ensure that organic programs are restored when Congress gets back to writing a 2013 Farm Bill. We have developed strong relationships with members of both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees, and will continue to work with them to guarantee the needs of the organic sector are met. CCOF is also committed to increasing the organic farmer’s voice in farm bill discussions and will be working to invite legislators to meet our members and visit their farms. If you want to get engaged, sign up for CCOF’s action alerts. Please email me if you are interested in hosting a farm tour for your legislator.