Ever wonder what your US Dept. of Agriculture is doing for the organic industry. The New York Times and the Organic Consumers Association opine that it’s next to nothing. Here’s a perspective:
“On August 19, the New York Times exposed the USDA for shortchanging organic programs. Journalist Andrew Martin pointed out that the National Organic Program, which regulates the entire organic industry, has just nine staff members and a puny annual budget of $1.5 million. In contrast… chemical- agribusinesses have individually received more than that in subsidies, including $1.7 million in subsidies given to a single mega-farm in Florida. The article goes on to point out that the USDA (whose annual budget is $100 billion) spent $28 million on organic agriculture programs last year, which may sound like a lot, but, in comparison, the agency spent $37 million subsidizing farmers who grew dry peas last year.
As a note of reference on those numbers, consumers spend only $83 million a year on dry peas, whereas consumers spent almost $17 billion last year on organic food. The New York Times noted, “It’s not entirely surprising that organics are such a low priority at the department and in Congress. Both the agency and farm-state members of Congress are reliable cheerleaders for industrialized agriculture, and Big Ag has often viewed organics with suspicion, if not outright disdain.”
Here’s the full story.