Organic farmers and consumers will be hurt by congressional inaction that let the farm bill lapse: letter to the editor

The Cleveland Plain Dealer
November 14, 2012

On Oct. 1, the farm bill officially expired due to inaction by the U.S. House of Representatives. Their fumbling over budget cuts and money allocation has led us to the first full expiration of the farm bill in history, leaving many programs without funding to continue their essential actions toward advancing agriculture in this country. One such program is the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), which stopped accepting applications after Oct. 31.

Organic farmers are required to pay an annual fee for certification. The NOCCSP gives farmers the opportunity to offset those costs by up to $750 per year. Without this low-cost program, we are likely to see the number of enrollments to organic certification programs in Ohio slow and re-enrollments decline. Being organically certified helps consumers know that their food is held to the standards set by the National Organic Program, which approximately one-third of Ohio’s organic operations utilize.

The loss of such a program could have devastating effects on the growing organic movement, but all hope is not lost. Congress can replenish funding by voting in its current lame-duck session to reauthorize the farm bill. A call to your congressmen can help make this a reality.

Shane Richmond, Granville