Posted January 14, 2005,
Organic Farming Research Foundation: The 2005 Appropriations
Omnibus bill, signed by President Bush on Dec. 8, provides key U.S.
organic agriculture programs with funding levels equal to amounts
appropriated in 2004. Organic advocates are calling these funding
measures a small victory during a difficult fiscal year, in which
many substantial cuts have been made to federal programs.
"Level funding for these programs this year is evidence that
Congress is increasingly aware of the value of organic farming to
both farmers and consumers," said Brise Tencer of the Organic
Farming Research Foundation (OFRF).
Congress allocates money annually to the U.S. Department of Agriculture
and other federal programs, but only in recent years has funding
been directed specifically to organic farming research programs.
OFRF and allies on Capitol Hill lobbied hard over the past 10 months
to secure renewal of these funds. The Organic Caucus, a bipartisan
group of 35 members of the U.S. House of Representatives that formed
in 2001, worked particularly closely with OFRF to protect this funding.
"Organic farming offers many opportunities for current and
future farmers as more Americans want organically produced products,"
said Organic Caucus member Congressman Virgil Goode, R-Va., who
serves on the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee.
Organic provisions in the $388.4 billion Fiscal 2005 omnibus bill
included $2 million for Organic Standards (the National Organic
Program at the USDA), $1.89 million for the Organic Transitions
research grant program, and $500,000 for collecting data on the
scale and growth of organic agriculture in the United States.
"Organic farming is becoming more widespread every year, and
it's critical that we support that growth by funding organic programs,"
said Congressman Sam Farr, D-Calif., a strong Congressional advocate
for organics standards.
Thanks to the help of Representative Farr and California Sen. Dianne
Feinstein, OFRF was able to secure an additional $125,000 for expanded
research at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) station
in Salinas, Calif., the only ARS research station with a dedicated
organic research scientist.
"The increased funding to the Organic Minor Crops project
at Salinas places dollars where they can be most effective,"
said Jim McCreight, Research Director at ARS-Salinas. Dr. Eric Brennan's
organic research (the focus of the additional funding) emphasizes
cover cropping systems and crop rotations for organic strawberry
and vegetable producers in California's central coast.
While some additional funding requests made by OFRF for USDA organic
programs were not appropriated, Congress included language that
directs the USDA's Agriculture Research Service to better serve
organic producers and consumers: "The Committee encourages
ARS, when appropriate, to direct research resources in a manner
that reflects the growing interest in organic production and the
need to provide enhanced research for this growing organic sector."
To view a full list of organic program appropriations for the 2005
fiscal year, visit http://www.OFRF.org/policy.