Senate Ag Committee hearing on specialty crops and trade

The Senate Ag Committee explored marketing opportunities for specialty crops and organics in a farm bill hearing Thursday.

Chairman Pat Roberts said farmers need a strong and reliable market to sell products, but emphasized the need for changes to prevent fraudulent organic imports.  “It seems that uncertainty and dysfunction have overtaken the National Organic Standards Board and the regulations associated with the National Organic Program.  These problems create an unreliable regulatory environment.”

President of Illinois-based Clarkson Grain Company Ken Dallmier testified saying leading organic demand are dairy and poultry products, but supplies of organic grain have fallen short, and the National Organic Program (NOP) hasn’t been aggressive enough in leveling the playing field.  “The design of the NOP did not include sufficient enforcement power to combat fraud, whether it be domestic or foreign.  The idea was to promote trade, with the premise that people are inherently good.”

In 2016, more than 50 percent of organic corn and 70 percent of organic soybeans used in the United States were imported, which Dallmier says represents 1,000,000 acres and $410 million in lost revenue alone for U.S. producers.

He says the NOP should have been more aggressive in developing a transition program to build the U.S. organic supply, and providing the same farm programs to organic and transitional farmers would help meet increasing organic demand from American consumers with American produced organic products.

AUDIO: Opportunities in Global and Local Markets, Specialty Crops, and Organics: Perspectives for the 2018 Farm Bill Hearing

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