Organic Farmers Choose Policy Positions

The Organic Farmers Association (OFA) has voted to approve its first policy positions.

The OFA is a newer group with around 400 members, one of its rules is only farmer members can vote for policy decisions.

With a new farm bill around the corner, OFA is advocating for organic farmer needs. They want more funding for organic research, right now there's about $20 million dollars a year for scientific studies.

The OFA also urges quick implementation of the Organic Livestock rule, which is scheduled to go into effect in November 14.

They want to persuade lawmakers not to stop the popular Organic Certification Cost Share program, which helps farmers deal with the $1,000 annual certification costs. There are talks in Washington about ending that program.

The OFA also wants fair treatment under conservation programs like EQIP, conservation stewardship, and CRP.

OFA Steering Committee Chair Jim Riddle, who farms perennial organic fruits in Minnesota, says organic farmers need fair treatment in crop insurance too. They already have to pay a premium, but the prices are capped at double the price of conventional crops.

Riddle thinks there's no link between the two prices, "It's really supply and demand. It's the free market at work. And often times the prices for organic crops, including things like corn and beans, exceed that two times the conventional price. So we'd like to see it reflect the real prices that organic farmers are being paid."

Riddle says that should extend to storage loan, where the money they take out is reflected by the higher food costs.

The OFA says as Congressional Ag committees work to draft the 2018 farm bill, they now have organic farmer priorities clearly outlined.

You can read a full outline of the priorities here: http://organicfarmersassociation.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/NOSB-ORGANIC-POLICY-PRIORITIES-FALL-2017.pdf