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US: More funding for organic farming

On May 5, 2009, US Agriculture Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan announced 50 million US Dollars for a new initiative to meet the Obama Administration's promise to encourage more organic agriculture production.


Funding for the initiative is being made available as part of the Environmental Quality Incentives Program EQIP.

"Assisting organic producers is a priority of the 2008 Farm Bill as well as for Secretary Vilsack and the Obama Administration," said Merrigan. "The objective of this initiative is to make organic food producers eligible to compete for EQIP financial assistance."

The 2009 Organic Initiative is a nationwide special initiative to provide financial assistance to National Organic Program NOP certified organic producers as well as producers in the process of transitioning to organic production. Organic producers may also apply for assistance under general EQIP.  Additional information on the 2009 EQIP Organic Initiative is available at: www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/.

The Organic Trade Association OTA expressed delight that the U.S. Department of Agriculture USDA is offering 50 million US Dollars in new funding to encourage greater production of organic food in the United States. “The Organic Trade Association is pleased to see this support and recognition from USDA that organic farming practices represent positive environmental practices. OTA believes that this funding will further encourage farmers to use such practices and help increase the U.S. production of organic food to meet growing consumer demand,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s Executive Director.

On February 24, 2009, President Barack Obama had announced his intention to nominate Kathleen A. Merrigan to be Deputy Secretary of Agriculture. 

Merrigan most recently was an assistant professor and Director of the Agriculture, Food and Environment MS and PhD Program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston, MA. Prior to joining the Friedman School, she held a variety of policymaking jobs at the state, federal and international level. From 1999 to 2001, she was Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service of USDA. From 1994 to 1999, she worked at the Wallace Institute for Alternative Agriculture, and served as an expert consultant at the Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. From 1987 to 1992, she was a staff member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, working for Chairman Patrick Leahy. From 1986 to 1987, Merrigan worked in the regulatory division of the Texas Department of Agriculture and from 1982 to 1985, she worked for Congressman John Olver during his tenure in the Massachusetts State Senate. Merrigan holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in environmental planning and policy, a Master of Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and a B.A. in Political Science and English from Williams College. Furthermore she has served as a board member of The Organic Center over the past few years.


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