Obama Offers Farmers $50 Million to Go Organic

Organic farming just got gubernatorial. The US Department of Agriculture just announced funding for a new organics initiative–and Obama’s going to give $50 million in funding for farmers to make the switch to organic. Farmers will now be able to apply for funds that will aid them in making the transition to organic. And even though $50 million isn’t a whole hell of a lot in the $787 billion stimulus scheme of things, it’s nonetheless a nice boost for the organic industry–here’s how it’ll help.

While the funding itself is a positive move indeed, the publicity and credibility the move lends organic farming are indispensable. The Obamas have already thrown local farming into the limelight with the White House garden, but now it’s official: the government deems organic farming worthy of funding directly. Which is encouraging. The funds will support non-organic farmers as they learn skills like natural nutrient management, crop rotation, and pesticide-free pest control.

However, a few problems with the move remain: first, there’s a fairly tight deadline on the application for funds–May 29th is the cutoff. Not a lot of time for non-organic farmers pondering making the switch to take the plunge. Second, as I said before, $50 million isn’t enough–it’s a nice public pat on the back for the practice, as opposed to throwing some real support behind it. It could also be seen as a move designed to appease those small and organic farmers concerned with some new controversial farming laws.

But, a nice public pat on the back is better than getting ignored, right? And $50 million could go a long ways in getting more farms on the organic track.

For more details, check out the USDA press release

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