The Organic Trade Association (OTA) recently published a white paper detailing how federal policy can best support organic production. The ‘Advancing Organic to Mitigate Climate Change’ paper details the value that organics provide to efforts to mitigate climate change. OTA points to a multitude of economic, environmental, and health benefits that are associated with organic agriculture. The paper highlights areas where federal support can help maximize those benefits.
“There’s a lot of opportunities and gaps in federal policy to encourage organic practices. We are looking at existing programs, ways that we can improve USDA programs, and reduce that risk especially when you’re transitioning to organic,” said Megan Debates, OTA Director of Legislative Affairs. “The private sector has made a huge investment in it. But there’s still not a lot of federal support that’s kept up with that market growth and the opportunity for continued growth in the U.S. for organic products.”
Issues related to climate change have gained more federal attention in recent years. OTA has emphasized that organic agriculture can help mitigate the effects of climate change through both direct and indirect methods. “This policy conversation naturally opens up opportunities to talk about organic farmers and how we can grow organic production,” Debates noted.
PROBLEMATIC ECONOMIC OUTLOOK AHEAD
The challenges created by COVID-19 may make organic investment more difficult in the years ahead. Budgetary constraints in the years to come could prove to be a difficult environment for implementing any new initiatives. Debates said that investments in organic production should remain appealing to policymakers based on the benefits it provides. Creative approaches to funding will be needed to maximize the potential of organic production in the short term.
“It’s going to be about utilizing resources in a very smart way. I think there is an opportunity here within agriculture to make smaller investments that will have a huge impact. That is what we need to be looking at right now,” Debates noted. “I think it’s really about looking at how do we best invest taxpayer dollars.”