The U.S. House of Representatives failed to reauthorize the 2008 Farm Bill, choosing inaction instead. This important legislation officially expired as of Oct. 1 and will have significant impact on small and mid-sized farms.
Allowing certain programs to expire will create unnecessary hardships for farmers and their efforts toward a more sustainable food system. Two bills set to expire are the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program and the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program.
Organic farmers are required to pay an annual fee for certification. The cost-share program gives farmers the opportunity to offset those costs by up to $750 a year. Without this low-cost program we are likely to see the number of certified organic farmers drop. Organic certification helps consumers know that their food is held to the standards set by the National Organic Program.
To address the aging population of agricultural workers, the development program helps to provide essential training to America’s next generation of farmers and ranchers. New farmers have many obstacles to overcome; with resources and training available under this program we are able to put a little more wind in their sails.
These programs need their funding to be reauthorized. It is vital for Congress to pass the 2012 Farm Bill in the upcoming lame-duck session in November.SHANE RICHMOND Granville, OH
Shane is a policy intern at OEFFA