Farm Bill Discussed at Florida Organic Growers Summit

Abbey Taylor Farm Bill, Livestock, Organic

Marty Mesh

By Jaci Schreckengost

With 2018 farm bill provisions being discussed, many growers are interested in telling their stories about how certain portions of the bill have either helped or hurt them in the past.

At the inaugural Florida Organic Growers (FOG) Florida Organic Food & Farming Summit in Gainesville, a workshop was held to discuss what is currently in the farm bill and to have a listening session for those who wanted to share their ideas.

Marty Mesh, executive director of FOG, was a panel member at the farm bill workshop titled, “Farm Policy in the Year of the Farm Bill,” held on September 18 during the summit. He discussed important topics for the bill.

Mesh said he believed a lack of infrastructure has been harming the organic meat-processing industry in Florida. This is one topic he believes should be addressed in the farm bill because it limits the ability of farmers to produce organic livestock.

The importance of whole farm revenue was also stressed by Mesh for the 2018 farm bill. He advocated “having a program like that refined and made available to really where they (farmers) do have a safety net.” Whole farm revenue would also be beneficial in times of natural disasters, such as hurricanes, to help farmers gain some of the revenue lost during that time, Mesh said.

The cost-share program was another topic Mesh said is a priority for the 2018 farm bill. After the program was started at FOG between 1999 and 2001, it was introduced to the 2002 farm bill as the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, he said.

Mesh described this program as one that helps both the grower and the buyer. This program takes some of the cost from growers, so they do not pay the entire organic certification fee themselves. It also ensures buyers that the products really are grown organically. Mesh said this is an important program to continue in the 2018 farm bill that benefits many young and entry-level organic growers by helping keep their costs down.

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