New report: Unleashing the potential of organic farming

New report: Unleashing the potential of organic farming

Vue Her is a Hmong farmer who grows specialty Asian crops near Fresno, California.

Our diet is in trouble, with growing instability in agriculture due to climate change, widespread food insecurity, and continued reliance on chemicals that threaten health and the environment. It’s time to turn more attention — and resources — into tried and proven solutions over time. Organic farming is an ideal starting point.

The new NRDC report, Organic farming: climate, health, and the economic case for the expansion of organic farmingAnd the Published in partnership with the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University and California Pesticide Reform, it summarizes the latest scientific research on the broad benefits of organic farming systems, providing insights from more than a dozen organic farmers and ranchers around the country operating on every organic scale. It also explains the risks of our current agricultural system and provides concrete policy recommendations on how to maximize the benefits of organic produce.

Our climate, health and economies need more organic farming

unlike traditional farmingOrganic farming is based on a set of principles and values ​​that focus on biodiversity, natural materials and healthy soils. to be accreditedorganicFarmers and ranchers must adhere to a scientifically backed set of practices, rooted in Indigenous knowledge of ecosystems and now defined in federal law, and which treat agriculture and nature as a comprehensive and interdependent system, both above and above ground.

Organic reduces emissions and builds resilience

Organic Reduces Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions for Agriculture By avoiding most fossil fuel-based inputs, it also builds climate resilience by promoting healthy soils, diversifying food crops, and supporting threatened wildlife habitats and biodiversity. Data shows that organic farms emit less nitrous oxide by avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides commonly used in conventional farming, and organic livestock production generates fewer methane emissions than conventional methods. Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs).

By building healthy soils that retain water and store carbon, organic farming also builds the resilience and stability of our food supply in the face of drought and other extreme weather conditions that will occur with increasing frequency in a changing climate.

Organic protects and promotes health

Organic farming in a big way Reduces exposure to pesticides, which causes acute and chronic health problems for farm workers and communities near traditional farms. Organic producers also avoid the vast majority of chemicals and other substances allowed in or on non-organic foods, and reduce fertilizer and waste contamination in waterways.

Membership contributes to prosperity and revitalization of societies

Organic creates economic vitality and important growth for farmers and farming communities. Researchers have identified “organic hotspots” across the United States where increased organic production creates new jobs, reduces unemployment, and stimulates agribusiness growth across the region. An emerging generation of small farmers is finding out Organic farming can be productive and profitableenabling these farmers to stay in business and expand production to local and regional markets.

Organic needs for federal (and state) support to reach their full potential

Unfortunately, federal investments in technical assistance, research and marketing have not matched the consistent and rapid growth of the organic sector. For example, in 2021, The The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) spent only 2% of its research budget on membership.

A significant increase in organic funding — throughout the farm bill and across the federal government — is long overdue, especially with the growing number of farmers and ranchers. Interested in sustainable practices and resilience to climate change. We need to expand and develop existing programs that support organic farming and livestock farming New oneand making sure organic is available to everyone, including producers and communities of color who have not been served fairly by federal agricultural policies or our food system. our report It provides detailed policy recommendations to maximize the potential of organic farming, including:

Reducing Barriers to Membership: Producers seeking organic certification must go through a long, difficult and financially risky process – usually with little government support. We need more resources that support organic transformation, especially for Black, Indigenous, and Other People of Color (BIPOC). We also need to devote a fair share of research, technical assistance, and other public investment in agriculture to smooth the path toward organic certification.

Advanced Justice in Organic Agriculture: BIPOC producers face unique and important barriers within the organic sector, which must be addressed to ensure that the organic sector represents and serves diverse communities. Congress and the USDA should prioritize a range of services targeted to underinvested geographic regions and communities, including the Southeast and non-English speaking tribes and producers.

Expanding markets and increasing access to organic products: The federal government can help grow markets for organic food and increase access to healthy food by leveraging its purchasing power. Priority should be given to membership in all state food programs and agency procurement guidelines.

Calculation of “real costs” in policy making: Existing processes for evaluating the benefits and burdens of our public investments tend to underestimate the private economic benefits for companies at the expense of the public costs of environmental, health, and social damage—even if these costs are factored in. The USDA should instead analyze the full range of costs and benefits of policies to better align public investments with public benefits.

After 20 years of federally regulated organic production, with minimal public policy support and financing, the organic sector has already exceeded expectations, growing at a rate far outpacing heavily subsidized conventional production. Establishing membership as a national priority is an essential investment in our future.

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