The Organic Farmers' Burden

Mark Keating's picture

The near stranglehold which agribusiness holds over policymaking in Washington, DC was painfully evident in the six month spending measure Congress approved last week. Buried deep in the last minute compromise were two legislative riders hand crafted by the agricultural biotechnology and concentrated animal feedlot operation (CAFO) lobbyists. The first rider guts judicial review of the process for approving genetically modified seeds while the second rolls back USDA’s already weak regulations protecting the contract rights of poultry and beef producers. 

Getting Congress to undercut both judicial and executive branch protections for small farmer and consumer interests in a single bill reinforces just how blatantly agribusiness rules the roost on Capitol Hill. 

At the same time that Congress was rewarding agribusiness, it continued to ignore the legitimate interests of American’s organic, sustainable, local and beginning farmers. The previous round of behind-closed-doors budgeting in late 2012 lopped off nearly $500 million in crucial funding for research, marketing and credit programs serving these fast-growing groups. Congress missed a golden opportunity to do the right thing and fund these common sense, cost-effective programs through last week’s spending bill. There is still time, though precious little, to secure 2013 funding for these programs. We’re not going to let Congress sacrifice the future of America’s organic, sustainable, local and beginning farmers while it props up the discredited agribusiness model. 

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