Organic Food & Farming Report Outlines Opportunities for the Farm Bill

A new report highlights the advantages of organic farming and provides strategies to increase organic farming practices until 2023 under the Farm Bill. This report is a result that is a collaboration between the National Resources and Defense Council (NRDC), Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University (ASU), and Californians for Pesticide Reform (CPR).

The report is titled ” Grow Organic: The Climate, Health, and Economic Case for Expanding Organic Agriculture,” this report promotes organic agriculture because of its emphasis on biodiversity, soil fertility, and organic systems over chemicals intervention. The authors state that this method “holds significant and largely untapped potential to address multiple crises facing our society, including climate change, health, and struggling rural economies.”

The study of the environmental and human benefits of organic farming, supported by case studies from more than twelve farms, helps reveal these agriculture practices’ potential. The study shows organic farming can sequestration carbon, improve soil health, and decrease carbon dioxide emissions. These methods can also assist in stopping the spreading of antibiotic resistance – an ever-growing issue that is threatening human health. They can also help decrease exposure to harmful chemicals from agriculture.

“Expanding organic agricultural practices is an investment into our future that will eventually bring significant profits. The current system has a lot of hidden costs that are subsidized by tax dollars cannot be financed. If we take into account the actual costs of our current farming practices–which include environmental, health economic and other impacts, the value for organic farms is evident,” says Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director of the Swette Center of Arizona State University and former U.S. deputy secretary as well as Chief Operating Officer for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

However, “Grow Organic” notes that only 1 percent of agricultural farms are managed organically. A report by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) shows that farmers frequently need help with obstacles, such as a lower yield over the three years required to switch to organic farming, the management of pests and weeds, and the costs associated with organic certification. OFRF is also aware that these issues are disproportionately affecting BIPOC farmers.

To address this change, those who wrote “Grow Organic” provides ten suggestions to help policymakers grow organic farming through the 2023 Farm Bill and beyond.

“More significant organic investments in the Farm Bill– together with a strong administrative commitment to organic and the continued advocacy of stakeholders–are necessary to ensure that everyone who wants to farm, ranch, manage land, and eat organically can do so,” the report explains.

Suggestions include offering more support to farmers throughout the transition, a boost in federal funds to support the research and development for organic farming, and reducing the barriers hindering organic certifications in BIPOC farmers. Accurate Cost Accounting can help all stakeholders comprehend the value of organic agriculture.

“The cash register receipt captures only part of the true cost of food,” Merrigan informs Food Tank. “The harm of synthetic chemicals on human health, biodiversity, and the environment are not accounted for, which is one of the many reasons why organic is always a best buy.”

The authors also advocate for an increase in the education of consumers on organic food products and the more effective implementation of organic programs within public institutions, such as the USDA.

“It’s time to unlock the potential of organic agriculture through our public policies, including the upcoming Farm Bill,” says Allison Johnson, Senior Attorney at NRDC. “Taxpayers spend billions each year to support conventional farming practices that place humans and the environment in danger. Making the switch to organic farming means a more resilient climate and healthier food choices and stronger regional economies.”


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