A bill recently introduced by Rep. Ann Kuster, D-N.H. and Sen. Bob Casey, D-PA, would help close the gap by providing more American farmers with the tools they need to make the transition to organic farming.
The Homegrown Organic Act of 2017 (H.R. 3637 and S. 2215) would modify existing voluntary agricultural conservation programs to better assist producers who want to switch to organic. The simple changes called for in the bill will provide transitioning producers with valuable technical and financial assistance, as well as make more farmland available to producers wanting to farm organically.
We’ve pulled together some resources to better understand this legislation and some action steps for you to take to increase organic production today! If we helped more farmers and ranchers transition to organic, we’d not only protect the environment – we’d also make organic food grown in the U.S. more accessible for everyone, while at the same time expanding market opportunities for U.S. farmers and ranchers.
Over the course of the last two decades, U.S. demand for organic products has surged. Unfortunately, a lengthy certification process and complex regulations have prevented many American farmers from making the transition to organic farms – forcing U.S. food companies to turn to overseas suppliers. In an effort to make this transition easier and help grow the U.S. production of organic products, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced The Homegrown Organic Act of 2017. This legislation would make minor changes to existing agriculture conservation programs that assist producers in making the transition.
“There’s no reason food companies should look overseas when the best farmers in the world are right here in Pennsylvania,” said Senator Casey. “As demand for organic products grows, we must do all we can to help American farmers and ranchers meet this demand.
This week, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced the Homegrown Organic Act of 2017, a bill that will modify three existing conservation programs to incentivize farmers who wish to transition to organic agriculture. Organic agriculture is the fastest growing sector of the U.S. food industry, with demand for sales far exceeding the domestic supply. This legislation aims to boost American production of organic products by assisting farmers who are working towards USDA Organic Certification, a process that can take up to three years.
“In New Hampshire, organic farming is an important driver of local economies and provides fresh quality food to thousands of consumers,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Organic farms also play a role in preserving our environment and beautiful Granite State farmland. It’s my hope that we can expand organic farming in our state by encouraging more farmers to transition to organic.”
Recent News On The Homegrown Organic Act:
Legislation seeks to boost U.S. organic production
The homegrown organic act would:
- Modify the Conservation Stewardship Program to provide technical and financial assistance to growers as they transition to organic;
- Modify the Environmental Quality Incentives Program by eliminating the separate payment limit in place for EQIP Organic Initiative.
- Modify the Conservation Reserve Program to expand opportunities for producers interested in transitioning to organic farming or ranching under a separate CRP Transition Incentives Program.
The Homegrown Organic Act of 2017 introduced today by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., would expand market opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers, generate more jobs in the fastest growing segment of the food industry and better position America’s farmers and ranchers to meet the growing demand for organic around the globe, said EWG Legislative Director Colin O’Neil.
Despite the rapid growth of the organic sector and the price premiums enjoyed by organic farmers, U.S. production of organic food has significantly lagged behind consumer demand. The gap between supply and demand means many American organic food companies must turn to foreign suppliers to meet the demand for staples like soybeans, corn, and rice. It also means American farmers are missing the chance to boost their income – and the chance to reduce the impact of farming on the environment.
The Homegrown Organic Act of 2017 (H.R. 3637), would modify existing voluntary agricultural conservation programs to better assist producers who want to switch to organic. The simple changes called for in the bill will provide transitioning producers with valuable technical and financial assistance, as well as make more farmland available to producers wanting to farm organically.
More and more Americans want to avoid toxic pesticides on the foods they are buying and feeding their families. But the U.S. invests too little in growing more organic food. As demand for organic food continues to rise, American food companies and retailers are forced to rely on imports.
Organic farming posts huge year-over-year growth—in 2016, the industry was estimated at $47 billion, a $3.7 billion increase from the year before—but only about one percent of American farmland is dedicated to organic production, and a pair of new bills, one in the House and one in the Senate, aims to expand that.
Organic farming remains a bright spot in American agriculture. The price premiums enjoyed by organic farmers for many staple commodities like soybeans and corn remain higher than conventional prices. Meanwhile, studies show that organic farming practices can improve water quality in areas of the Midwest most at risk from agricultural runoff.
According to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service, Organic farms in the U.S. sold $7.6 billion worth of certified organic commodities in 2016, up 23 percent from 2015. The number of certified organic farms increased 11 percent to 14,217 in 2016, and the number of certified acres increased 15 percent to 5 million.
Get educated, then get involved:
- Read EWG’s Report: GROWING ORGANIC. Expanding Opportunities for U.S. Farmers by Supporting Organic Transition.
- Understand the problem and the solution.
- The Problem: America is Too Reliant on Imports to Meet Growing Demand for Organic Food.
- The Solution: With a Few Small Changes We Can Help More Farmers Transition to Organic.
- Help us grow organic! Contact Your Members of Congress!
- Share this post on social media and with your fellow organic food lovers.
- Challenge three friends to take action with you!