Federal oversight of organic food at risk

 
Tuesday August 21, 2012
The Columbus Dispatch

Farmers are right to demand legislators take swift action on the 2012 farm bill (“Farmers vent over farm bill,” New York Times article, Aug. 13 Dispatch).

Because of inaction by the U.S. House of Representatives, important farm-bill programs stand to lose funding on Sept. 30, including the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program. This very valuable program covers up to 75 percent of annual organic-certification costs.

Without the program, many farmers say they would not be able to afford organic certification, which requires an operation to comply with strict production standards.

Consumer demand for organic certified meat and produce has risen steadily for several years. This is largely because the organic label is a trusted indicator that a product was raised with care for the health of consumers, animals and the environment.

The 2008 Farm Bill funded the program at $22 million over five years, a small fraction of the farm bill itself, which costs around $300 billion.

This is a small investment that will help our economy to grow and keep American farmers in the business of growing good food for the rest of us.

Those interested should call their U.S. representatives and tell them to preserve funding for the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program in the 2012 farm bill.

DANIELLE DEEMER
Columbus