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Senate approves Farm Bill for Organic Agriculture
02
Jan '08
In a 79 to 14 vote, the U.S. Senate approved its version of the Farm Bill that included funding and direction for key organic priorities, according to Caren Wilcox, executive director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA).

"The Senate Farm Bill includes important steps to help strengthen the safety net for organic producers and manufacturers," Wilcox said.

"These measures include funding for organic research, data collection, and transition to organic production, as well as eliminating the crop insurance premium for organic producers."

Currently, organic producers must pay a 5% surcharge for crop insurance; yet, in times of loss, the producers receive not the usually higher organic crop price, but the lower conventional price.

The Senate version of the Farm Bill:
• recognizes that increased funding is essential for the National Organic Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture at the full authorized level;

• includes $5 million for organic data collection to help provide better price and yield information for organically-grown crops;

• includes $22 million in new money for certification cost share to aid organic farmers;

• bars USDA from charging a premium surcharge on organic crop insurance, unless validated by loss history on a crop-by-crop basis;

• adds organic production as an eligible activity in the Environmental Quality Incentives Program;

• adds to the Soil and Water Conservation Protection Loans a priority for those converting to organic farming practices and adds conversion to organic production as an eligible loan purpose;

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