Assemblymember Michael Allen (D – Sonoma County) has introduced legislation to help California farmers who want to transition their farmland to certified organic status.
California farmers who wish to transition their farmland to certified organic face a number of financial roadblocks. For starters, a transitioning farmer is not allowed to use conventional fertilizers or pesticides on the transitioning farmland for three years, a fact which must be documented and certified by a certifying agency paid for by the farmer.
During this three-year transitional period, the farmer is restricted to using typically more costly certified organic fertilizers and pest control practices. At the same time, the farmer is not yet allowed to sell the produce from the farm as certified organic to reap higher returns. California additionally requires certified organic farmers to pay extra registration fees.
These extra expenses, including inspection, certification and registration fees, have had the unfortunate effect of discouraging many California farmers from accomplishing their goal of transitioning to certified organic.
“AB 1625 will provide a measure of reimbursement to California farmers who transition their farmland to certified organic,” Allen said. “To accomplish this, AB 1625 creates a new state fund, the Transition to Organics Fund, to be administered by the California Department of Food and Agriculture.”
The fund will receive voluntary contributions form industry and citizens who are supportive of assisting California farmers in transitioning to organic. The fund will not receive any money form the state general fund. California farmers who transition their farmland to certified organic will be eligible to receive a reimbursement of 25% of the costs associated with obtaining organic certification, including inspection, certification and registration fees.
The California State Grange is a strong backer of Allen’s bill.
“AB 1625 helps California farmers, and I am pleased to support it,” said Bob McFarland, president of the California State Grange. “AB 1625 will preserve and create California farm jobs and help California farmers expand their national leadership in organic farming.”
Allen currently represents California’s 7th Assembly District, which is comprised of Napa County plus portions of Solano and Sonoma Counties.
Friday, March 2, 2012
Lawmaker aims to help farms go organic
From Assemblyman Michael Allen: