Thursday, April 19, 2007

Organic Agriculture Subcommittee - Who Knew!

House panel holds first hearing devoted to organic farming
By Michael Doyle
McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON - Lawmakers are giving organic farmers more respect these days. Manuel Vieira hopes that translates into more tangible help, as well.

Vieira grows yams and sweet potatoes organically near the Merced County town of Livingston, Calif. He speaks English with the accent of his native Azores Islands. He wants Congress to seriously step up its organic investments.

"I would like to see more (attention) from the Congress, from the government, paid to the people like myself who are trying to have better food, and a better life," Vieira said Wednesday. ...(more)

- It's nice to know that there is some attention being paid to organic agriculture. Let's hope that with Democrats in the majority, there will be help for organic farmers instead of road blocks like the Republicans threw up.

... Organic farmers urged Wednesday that they be freed from the 5 percent penalty they must currently pay on crop insurance premiums.

Until relatively recently, many organic growers lacked access to insurance for their presumably more-vulnerable crops. Changing insurance premiums, though, could start pitting farmers against the insurance industry.

Farmers say they also want help during the three years that it normally takes for a traditionally cultivated field to become certified certified. The House Agriculture Committee chairman, Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., suggested Wednesday that the new farm bill could allow federal conservation payments to assist farmers in making this transition.

"Demand is high," said Robert Marqusee, a rural economic development director from Iowa, "but our aging farmers are caught in the subsidy treadmill."

Here's who sits on the subcommittee:
Subcommittee on Horticulture and Organic Agriculture Dennis A. Cardoza, (D-CA) Chairman

Jurisdiction: fruits and vegetables; honey and bees; marketing and promotion orders; plant pesticides, quarantine, adulteration of seeds, and insect pests; and organic agriculture.

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