The US Department of Agriculture recently announced that $50 million in grant money was being made available to farmers who wanted to switch from conventional to organic farming practices. USDA Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan made the announcement last week of the grant money being made available.
The funding for the program is through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and fulfills an Obama administration promise to encourage organic farming practices. It could also be a first step in organic agriculture gaining a more widespread acceptance in the federal government and within the farming community.
You can read the full press release from the USDA here.
While $50 million might not sound like much in the grand scheme of things, especially in the wake of $700 billion bailouts being thrown about, it is certainly a start. And $50 million well spent can go a long way in subsidizing current organic farmers and assisting conventional farmers as they switch to organic practices.
One small drawback to this free grant money is that the application period is only until May 29, not a lot of time. Grant money is to be awarded in two general categories – food producers making the initial switch to organic agriculture, and established organic producers changing over additional land or creating additional conservation or organic farming practices. The hope is also that this will not be a one time grant, but an annual amount of money that can be rerouted from the billions of dollars spent on other inefficient farm subsidy programs.
Small steps can create large changes, so while this may seem like small potatoes, it’s a small step in the right direction. Remember to use your food dollars to vote for your priorities. Buy local organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible. Grow as much of your own food as you can, and embrace local growers, producers, and artisans.
For another victory by the voice of the peoples in speaking to our government, read about the People’s Garden at the White House. And for other examples of interactions between citizens and government, check out Urban Farmer Cited for Illegal Composting or Texas Town Enforces Chicken Ban.