Published in Diversified Farms,Farm Bill 2013,Farmers,Organic Producers,Senate Agriculture Committee on May 22, 2013.
Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Senator Mo Cowan (D-MA) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) are offering an amendment to the Conservation Title of the Agricultural Reform, Food and Jobs Act of 2013 that will help level the playing field for organic producers participating in the Organic Initiative offered through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).
EQIP encourages producers to steward our agricultural resources by providing technical and financial assistance for adopting conservation practices on agricultural lands. The Organic Initiative supports producers transitioning to or engaged in organic production. The Leahy-Cowan-Collins amendment would eliminate the separate payment limit for participants in the organic initiative. This will enhance the value of the EQIP program for organic and transitioning producers, and streamline administration of the EQIP program.
Nationwide, the organic sector has become a $35 billion industry, creating jobs at four times the national rate and served by over 17,700 organic family farmers. In addition to its economic benefits, organic agricultural systems offer a wide range of conservation benefits, from improved soil and water quality to increased biodiversity and wildlife habitat. These organic producers should be able to access EQIP support at the same levels as conventional producers.
Conventional producers use many practices developed by organic agriculture, and these practices should be on the same footing as other methods used to address priority resource concerns.
By streamlining the administration of the EQIP program, the amendment will make it easier for the Natural Resource Conservation Service to efficiently deliver services to organic and non-organic farmers alike.
Please join NEFU in supporting this amendment. Click here for our action alert!