USDA Rewarding Farmers Transitioning To Certified Organic Agriculture
The United State's Agricultural Secretary, Tom Vilsack, has announced new rules in support of local farmer's making the move into certified organic growing. Vilsack plans to expand crop insurance options, giving producers the ability to choose an insurance that is equal to their crop's real value.
"Consumer demand for organic products continues to increase and the industry has experienced remarkable growth, representing more than $39 billion in U.S. retail sales" said Vilsack (Gardenernews.com). This growth will begin to create opportunities for businesses and farmers across the country, and helps offer safety and support for farmers who want to make the move into organic agriculture.
The transition from conventional to certified organic crops however, can take years. And it's an understandable financial risk for many farmers. Previously, producers of transitional crops were only able to insure them at the same price as conventional producers. Now, farmers who are transitioning their crops can use the USDA's new Contract Price Addendum to cover their crops at a higher (and fairer) price than traditional ones.
The Contract Price Addendum basically allows farmers to insure certain crops at their contract price, rather than at the previously listed RMA prices. The Risk Management Agency (RMA) had only four organic premium price elections in 2011. But this year they have increased the amount to 57 different crops. Not only is the USDA helping farmers insure their production for the appropriate value, they are setting better regulated price standards across the board.
The USDA reported that in "2014, U.S. certified and exempt organic farms sold a total of $5.5 billion in organic products, this number having increased 72% since 2008" (agcensus.usda.gov). And we know that the U.S. total retail market for organic products is valued at almost $40 billion. These are big numbers that are exponentially growing, and farmers need and deserve to be able to insure their crops for amounts closer to their true market value. It's only fair. and we commend the USDA making efforts to constantly upgrade their systems.
Crop insurance is still only sold and delivered through private crop insurance agents. A list is available online (rma.usda.gov).
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