Monday, August 20, 2007

Legislative wrap-up: Organic agriculture

Momentum, excitement... but no money. That's basically the bottom line of what happened for organic agriculture during North Carolina's 2007 legislative session.

You may recall that Senator Janet Cowell filed a bill called the "Organic Economic Opportunities Study" that would have funded a baseline study to understand the current and potential economic impact of organic agriculture in North Carolina. House and Senate members from both parties signed on to her idea, which would have not only looked at the potential impact, but the potential obstacles to organic growth in the state.

Unfortunately, like many other good ideas, the study didn't make it into the General Assembly's budget this year. The study would have cost $125,000, and legislators didn't manage to pull the funding together.

However, organic advocates took heart in the new excitement around organic agriculture at the legislature this year. Legislators heard from organic growers in their rural districts about the economic benefits of organic farming, and many from urban districts heard from their constituents that the demand for locally-grown, organic foods is nowhere close to being met. At a local, organic breakfast sponsored by the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association in April, legislators heard from several of North Carolina's organic farmers about the hope, and the profit, that organic can provide for small farmers.

We are looking forward to building on this momentum, and the new awareness of organic farming, during next year's legislative session. You can help! Sign up for PESTed Action Alerts (if you don't already get them), and take every opportunity you can to let your elected officials know how important local, organic agriculture is to you.

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