The Risky Business of Growing Healthy Food

Faith Grant's picture

This year’s Organic Production Survey is out.  While it is less comprehensive, it does shed light on an important issue that’s overlooked in this Farm Bill cycle:  the need for improved crop insurance options for organic farmers.  Under the current system, organic farmers pay a 5% premium surcharge for crop insurance, but they are reimbursed at 'conventional' rates.  This  means that they pay more to get less.  This provides little incentive for an organic farmer to insure their crops against common risks like drought, insect damage, and weeds. 

USDA was mandated to look into this seemingly unfair practice in the 2008 Farm Bill, which they did.  Unfortunately, they haven’t moved quickly enough to implement the recommendations of the studies they commissioned. 

Where We Come In

OFRF worked diligently to address this issue with Congress as the 2012 Farm Bill was being drafted.  We encouraged and supported an amendment sponsored by organic champion Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon to get the Risk Management Agency (RMA) at USDA to establish price elections for more organic crops.  This amendment was included in the Senate bill, and we continue to push for this provision in any final legislation that passes both chambers of Congress. 

Crop insurance that works for organic farmers is an essential component of growing healthy organic food.  The future of organic farming depends on good risk management tools.  Let’s tell Congress that RMA needs to step it up and finish the job they started.


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