The following is a piece I wrote for my the Maryland Organic Food and Farming newsletter.(MOFFA). If you live in DC or MD, come to our winter meeting (the 22nd annual!): details below.
At the very end of the year, in the midst of fiscal cliff madness, Congress passed a controversial farm bill extension. Maybe you saw headlines like this one from the the Center for Food Safety, “Congress Passes Damaging Farm Bill Extension in “Fiscal Cliff” Package”. The extension of the farm bill contained many disappointments and has left the sustainable and organic agriculture community with lots of work to do.
Programs that were left out include funding for organic research and organic cost share. While this was a huge blow to activists working to improve the farm bill, it does give us an opportunity to get organized. Since the extension only goes 9 months, groups will get to work immediately to make sure the real 5 year farm bill extension is much better. Personally, I have to admit I was pretty surprised by the news. We know that public opinion is so strongly behind organics and local farms, even our awesome First Lady is advocating for healthy foods and gardens. As a country, I thought we were making clear progress. But until public opinion is reflected in national legislation, progress for organic farmers will slow to a crawl.
I think it is time for MOFFA to get serious as advocates for organics nationwide. I know we are all super busy and our organization is volunteer led, but I think we have to figure out how we can do more. There is grant money out there and many other statewide organic organizations manage to have staff. We are closer to Washington DC than most other organic agriculture organization. We don’t have to do it alone. We can form coalitions with groups like Future Harvest CASA, PASA, NOFA and MOFGA to develop a stronger voice that we can deliver to Washington in time for our next chance to influence the farm bill, which, by the way, starts now. Let’s talk about this at the winter meeting.
22nd. ANNUAL MOFFA WINTER MEETING
Saturday Feb 16, 2013
Maryland Dept. of Agriculture, 50 Harry S. Truman Parkway, Annapolis