Natural Foods Merchandiser

House votes to increase organic research funds

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Organic Transitions research program received a vote of confidence when the House of Representatives passed an amendment to increase its funding.

Attached to the 2007 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, the amendment bumps funding from $1.8 million to $5 million. The bill was sponsored by Reps. Rush Holt, D-N.J., Jim Leach, R-Iowa, Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., and Ron Kind, D-Wis., all members of the Congressional Organic Agriculture Caucus.

Brise Tencer, the Organic Farming Research Foundation's legislative coordinator, said the amendment signals a possible change in the political atmosphere. "These are people who in the past have been supportive of organic, but this is taking it a step further. It's more than signing on to a letter to their colleagues in the House. It's supporting an amendment and standing up and saying, 'This is important.'"

Organic Transitions is a grant program funding research and education to help farmers with organic production and marketing.

Tencer said the amendment "will help meet the high demand for those funds for researchers interested in doing that work." But she also stressed that the Senate must now pass a similar amendment for the bill to move forward. And while the funds will only be available in 2007, "It will set the precedent for future funding," she said.

Natural Foods Merchandiser volume XXVII/number 7/p. 12

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