USA: Vilsack recognizes distinct needs of organic agriculture
by Redaktion (comments: 0)
Speaking to member-attendees of the Organic Trade Association’s Policy Conference on 14 May 2013, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack officially recognized the unique production system covering organic agriculture in the USA, and announced guidance to remove agency obstacles to its continued growth (Picture by OTA).
"Organic is not the 'same as.' It is its own separate commodity and needs to be treated as such. I'm committed to that," Secretary Vilsack told policy attendees. A major part of his speech focused on plans to increase coverage options for organic producers this year - and more during 2014 - under federal crop insurance provided through USDA’s Risk Management Agency (RMA). In fact, he said, RMA will remove the current 5% organic rate surcharges on all future crop insurance policies beginning in 2014.
Getting accurate data is the biggest obstacle for developing better crop insurance options for organic farmers, Secretary Vilsack pointed out, expressing his desire that Congress help USDA make further progress by renewing the 2008 Organic Data Initiative as part of a new Food, Farms and Jobs bill. He added that USDA will be providing new guidance and direction on organic production to all USDA agencies directing them to recognize the distinct nature of USDA certified organic production and organic goods, and to take into account the documentation and inspection required for organic certification when considering organic operations’ eligibility for USDA programs and policies. The USDA’s full press release is available here.
The landmark guidance document Vilsack alluded to points out that through the National Organic Program (NOP), USDA has helped farmers and other operations create an industry now encompassing over 17,000 organic businesses in the USA and achieving US$35bn (about EUR27bn) in retail sales in the USA. In fact, organic ranks fourth in the USA’s food and feed crop production at farm-gate values when viewed as a distinct category, OTA reports.
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