The 2014 Farm Bill and Organic Farming
Marking a significant shift in American agriculture practices, the Farm Bill signed into law on February 7, 2014 included new provisions to promote organic farming, bringing much of the industry in line with conventional farming. Provisions include:
New crop insurance provision: Under the bill, organic producers will be able to insure crops at prices consistent with their retail value. Currently, organic crops prices are set at a level with non-organic counterparts. This will ensure organic farmers are not disproportionately affected in case of a crop failure or other problem.
Cost-share measure for farmers transitioning to organic agriculture: The Cost-Share Program assists small farmers and handlers in offsetting a portion of the costs of annual certification. Obtaining organic certification can be expensive for small producers and without this assistance, being certified organic would be unattainable for many farmers and handlers. The House Farm Bill had repealed this provision but fortunately the final bill signed into law included renewal of this key program.
Money for research, technological upgrades and market reporting: Organic farmers face many challenges that can’t be addressed through research geared towards conventional crops. Organic farming is a unique system that requires different solutions to pest and weed management, seeds, and production. Increased funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) will help meet the growing needs of the organic community. Additionally, the Organic Production Market and Data Initiative (ODI) collects information vital to maintaining stable markets, creating risk management tools, and increasing exports.