FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Squeeze on Organic Farmers

by BOB SCOWCROFT

More and more Americans are buying organic food. But is our government matching this groundswell of support with federal and state agricultural dollars?

No.

Organic farmers work with nature to control pests, weeds and disease. No synthetic fossil-fuel fertilizers are used and no hormones or antibiotics are used in livestock production. By many measures, organic food is healthier for our soil, water, wildlife and the people who grow it. The Agriculture Department last year issued standards and labeling rules for organic production and marketing.

But where is the government’s support, which still flows overwhelmingly to industrial agriculture?

Most observers agree that in 2002 the organic products industry received about 1.5 to 2 percent of our nation’s food dollar. Not much, some would say. But consider this: Last year consumers spent about $10 billion on organic products. Back in 1989, one agricultural economist pegged the size of the organic industry at only $89 million. That’s growth! Clearly growing numbers of Americans are saying organic farming is important.

But the government so far fails to recognize this surging support. The Organic Farming Research Foundation has determined that certified-organic land-grant university research acreage has grown from 151 acres in 2001 to just over 496 acres_this out of a massive 886,000 acres now dedicated to agricultural research.

Five years ago, OFRF published a report identifying the number of organic research projects funded by the USDA. After running 75 key words through the USDA’s 30,000 agricultural research projects database, OFRF discovered 34 explicitly organic projects. That translates to barely over one-tenth of 1 percent of our publicly funded agricultural research projects specifically dedicated to organic production practices.

What about actual dollars devoted to helping organic growers farm and market better? The news is a bit better here. Or is it? Last year, for the first time, Congress appropriated $3 million for organic research and required that this be an annual expenditure for the next five years. Our federal budget is now $2.14 trillion. The USDA budget is $74 billion. But the total annual organic outlay, which also includes money for marketing, economic analysis and enforcement of organic standards, approaches only $8 million.

Organic farmers deserve their fair share of our nation’s agricultural resources. A commitment to organic farming by the federal government that matches the commitment consumers have made to organic food would equal 1.5 to 2 percent of the USDA budget, or more than $1 billion. Think about it. That would go a long way to encourage a way of farming that is better for people and our planet.

BOB SCOWCROFT is executive director of the Organic Farming Research Foundation, Santa Cruz, Calif. He is a member of the Land Institute’s Prairie Writers Circle, Salina, Kan.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

June 28, 2017
Diana Johnstone
Macron’s Mission: Save the European Union From Itself
Jordon Kraemer
The Cultural Anxiety of the White Middle Class
Vijay Prashad
Modi and Trump: When the Titans of Hate Politics Meet
Jonathan Cook
Israel’s Efforts to Hide Palestinians From View No Longer Fools Young American Jews
Ron Jacobs
Gonna’ Have to Face It, You’re Addicted to War
Jim Lobe – Giulia McDonnell Nieto Del Rio
Is Trump Blundering Into the Next Middle East War?
Radical Washtenaw
David Ware, Killed By Police: a Vindication
John W. Whitehead
The Age of No Privacy: the Surveillance State Shifts into High Gear
Robert Mejia, Kay Beckermann and Curtis Sullivan
The Racial Politics of the Left’s Political Nostalgia
Tom H. Hastings
Courting Each Other
Winslow Myers
“A Decent Respect for the Opinions of Mankind”
Leonard Peltier
The Struggle is Never for Nothing
Jonathan Latham
Illegal GE Bacteria Detected in an Animal Feed Supplement
Deborah James
State of Play in the WTO: Toward the 11th Ministerial in Argentina
Andrew Stewart
Health Care for All: Why I Occupied Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse’s Office
Binoy Kampmark
The European Commission, Google and Anti-Competition
Jesse Jackson
A Savage Health Care Bill
Jimmy Centeno
Cats and Meows in L.A.
June 27, 2017
Jim Kavanagh
California Scheming: Democrats Betray Single-Payer Again
Jonathan Cook
Hersh’s New Syria Revelations Buried From View
Edward Hunt
Excessive and Avoidable Harm in Yemen
Howard Lisnoff
The Death of Democracy Both Here and Abroad and All Those Colorful Sneakers
Gary Leupp
Immanuel Kant on Electoral Interference
Kenneth Surin
Theresa May and the Tories are in Freefall
Slavoj Zizek
Get the Left
Robert Fisk
Saudi Arabia Wants to Reduce Qatar to a Vassal State
Ralph Nader
Driverless Cars: Hype, Hubris and Distractions
Rima Najjar
Palestinians Are Seeking Justice in Jerusalem – Not an Abusive Life-Long Mate
Norman Solomon
Is ‘Russiagate’ Collapsing as a Political Strategy?
Binoy Kampmark
In the Twitter Building: Tech Incubators and Altering Perceptions
Dean Baker
Uber’s Repudiation is the Moment for the U.S. to Finally Start Regulating the So-called Sharing Economy
Rob Seimetz
What I Saw From The Law
George Wuerthner
The Causes of Forest Fires: Climate vs. Logging
June 26, 2017
William Hawes – Jason Holland
Lies That Capitalists Tell Us
Chairman Brandon Sazue
Out of the Shadow of Custer: Zinke Proves He’s No “Champion” of Indian Country With his Grizzly Lies
Patrick Cockburn
Grenfell Tower: the Tragic Price of the Rolled-Back Stat
Joseph Mangano
Tritium: Toxic Tip of the Nuclear Iceberg
Ray McGovern
Hersh’s Big Scoop: Bad Intel Behind Trump’s Syria Attack
Roy Eidelson
Heart of Darkness: Observations on a Torture Notebook
Geoff Beckman
Why Democrats Lose: the Case of Jon Ossoff
Matthew Stevenson
Travels Around Trump’s America
David Macaray
Law Enforcement’s Dirty Little Secret
Colin Todhunter
Future Shock: Imagining India
Yoav Litvin
Animals at the Roger Waters Concert
Binoy Kampmark
Pride in San Francisco
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail