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Organic farmers

Republican committee targets organic farmers for funding cuts, avoids Big Ag subsidies

Sunday, January 30, 2011 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
Tags: organic farmers, subsidies, health news

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(NaturalNews) The Republican Study Committee (RSC), a group composed of 175 House Republicans concerned with advancing conservative social and economic agendas, recently made several budget cut proposals to the U.S. House of Representatives that target organic farmers and the relatively inexpensive government programs that support them. At the same time, the group ignored the conventional agriculture subsidies that top $5 billion in taxpayer dollars every year, according to a recent report in the Des Moines Register.

The report indicates that RSC is specifically targeting organic farmers, sugar growers, and an export promotion program that benefits fruit and vegetable growers. One program in specific helps subsidize farmers who are trying to obtain organic certification, which costs at most $56 million a year. Not only is this a drop in the bucket compared to many other programs, but the program is already on the verge of completely running out of funds by the time the new fiscal year begins in Fall 2011.

Meanwhile, RSC did not at all address the $5 billion in direct payments made every single year to industrial growers of cotton, soy, corn, rice, and wheat. Such payments are, by far, the bulk of government agricultural spending, and they are responsible for the artificially low cost of commodity crops used to produce cheap, unhealthy processed foods.

"It absolutely raises concerns that programs such as these that support farmers who seek to go into organic farming are targeted where the real costs of the bill are really somewhere else," said Ariane Lotti, policy director at the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF). "[I]t is remarkable they would try to cut a program with less than $5 million remaining while proposing to let a $5 billion a year program like direct payments go unscathed, especially at a time of high (commodity) prices."

According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), RSC's panel members include Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who represents an Iowa district that is the ninth largest recipient of farm subsidies in the nation, and Rep. Rick Berg (R-ND), who represents the number one farm subsidy recipient in the nation.

Sources for this story include:

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