Cook County Farm Bureau Seeks to Add Policy
The following policies were approved by the Cook County Farm Bureau® Board of Directors, made it through a preliminary hurdle in July, and will be considered by the full Farm Bureau delegation in December.
Directors approved revisions and updates to policy 66 Organic Agriculture. Updates include supporting:
- All methods of agricultural production and marketing provided they offer opportunities to all farmers who qualify or meet required standards.
- Broad availability of information on the USDA-certified organic program, certification process, and labeling requirements, as well as other unbiased information on organic products or production.
- Clarity and integrity of organic standards in the marketplace.
- Increased funding for organic agriculture, production, education, and technical assistance by non-government organization, land-grant universities, and extension.
- Enhanced marketing opportunities for producers of organically grown commodities just as we support such efforts for conventionally produced crops.
- Responsible use of buffer strips or others appropriate measures by organic farmers to protect their crops from pollen drift or other factors affecting the integrity of their crops.
Federal Programs and Support
- Research into methods for improving soil health and the development of biological and cultural management of disease, weeds, and pests.
- Organic farmers using organic prices for all federal farmer support programs.
- Allowing first-year organic crop insurance applicants to the Organic Crop Insurance Program to receive the organic price for their crop insurance providing that organic inspection occurs by the Risk Management Agency before the crop insurance deadline without final review and the final certificate required at a later date.
- Assisting farmers meet current and future consumer demand and expand outreach and education opportunities using the National Organic Cost Share Certification Program.
Certification and Enforcement
- Third-party certification to verify compliance with NOP (National Organic Program) standards.
- Full and equitable enforcement of NOP standards.
- A certification and accreditation process that is transparent, risk-based and requires producers and certificate holders to uphold high integrity in their organic production practices.
- Transparency about enforcement actions taken by NOP.
- Strict consequences for ACA implicated in domestic or foreign fraud and significant non-compliance.
- Strengthening USDA import inspection, review, and testing protocols to ensure organic label integrity.
- Requiring farmers selling organic products to display the USDA Certified Organic logo and their certification number.
Directors also approved updates to policy 69 Specialty Crops to support:
- Enhancing the specialty crops industry’s image through marketing, promotions, legislative engagement, and programming.
- Efforts to increase individuals’ access to fresh, healthy, local food through direct marketing outlets.
- The continued growth of the industry and development of various specialty crops that are not already defined by the USDA.
- Funding for specialty crop research, Extension services, pathologists, and entomologists to assist with the growth of the industry.
- The simplification and expansion of the Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistance Program to provide financial assistance to producers of non-insurable crops, including those grown for food or horticultural, to protect against natural disasters that prevent crop planting or result in lower yields or losses.
- Cost-share funding for USDA Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) certification.
- Reduced cost of Good Handling Practices (GHP) certification for small and very small producers.
- Standardization and clarity in the food grading system.
- Adoption of the FDA-State Produce Safety Implementation Cooperative Agreement Program.
- Implementation of and funding for the Value-Added Producer Working Grant Program for both food safety-only and working capital applicants.
- Funding for the Food Safety Intervention Technologies Research Unit to develop new processes to improve the safety of the food supply and to determine the efficacy and suitability of new biological, chemical, and non-thermal physical technologies.
- Development of technologies to reduce, control or eliminate foodborne pathogens from food products and contact surfaces.
- Simplification of state and federal agency food procurement processes.
Members interested in providing comments or feedback are encouraged to contact Bona Heinsohn at [email protected].