Wisconsin's organic foods industry has lost some crucial federal programs. Funding that was in the latest Farm Bill was pulled in the bill's extension.
The cuts were meant to help keep the government from careening over the so-called fiscal cliff. Now, those involved in the organic industry say they have been thrown for a loop. Several programs involving everything from research to crop insurance have been zeroed out.
Wisconsin- based Organic Valley has farmer members in more than 30 states. Government Relations coordinator Katie Peterman says lawmakers are still not taking organics seriously even though it's a $32 billion industry, "Because if they were they would give us the proper support in DC. Unfortunately we're not spending millions and millions of dollars that a lot of agribusinesses are in lobbying."
Industry supporters say the cuts to organic programs and to conventional farming programs were disproportionate. Harriett Behar is an organic specialist with the Wisconsin-based Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, or Moses. She says the organic industry got the short shrift when lawmakers chose to keep unpopular commodity and dairy subsidies alive, "What happened it came at the fiscal cliff it got somehow put back in there even though many members of Congress from both sides were against it and the only really to fund that $5 billion was to defund many programs which have shown to be beneficial."
Behar says there are lawmakers who are not happy with the cuts, and are looking into adding funding, as technical corrections, to the extension, or at least restore funding in the next Farm Bill, which is expected to be passed sometime this year.