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An absolute game-changing development took place last week in Georgia that should have organic advocates all feeling very hopeful.
On May 4th, Congressman David Scott (GA-13), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, visited the Rodale Institute Southeast Organic Center, located in Georgia’s Thirteenth Congressional District, to discuss the role of regenerative organic agriculture in strengthening the nation’s food supply and to highlight the research being conducted within the Rodale Institute’s network of farms.
“It was a pleasure meeting with the farmers and researchers right here in my district, who are at the tip of the spear when it comes to regenerative organic agriculture,” stated Congressman David Scott. “American families rely on agricultural infrastructure for their produce and groceries every day, and it is imperative for our nation’s food supply that we continue to implement policy at the federal level that not only bolsters sustainable farming practices but also mitigates the effects of climate change.”
According to Jeff Moyer, CEO of Rodale Institute, Congressman Scott and his staff were previously not familiar with the power of regenerative organic farming methods or the scalability and impact it has on farmers’ ability to manage the uncertainties of weather due to climate change, markets and supply chain interruptions caused by pandemics, war and political unrest. He was also excited to hear that ‘regenerative organic’ has recognition in the marketplace via the Regenerative Organic Certified label, a third-party certification with clear standards and strict enforcement.
This lack of familiarity, however, did not dampen the Congressman’s enthusiasm. In fact, quite the opposite.
“Congressman Scott said at the podium that we, as a nation, need to be looking at regenerative organic to deal with soil health and our fragile supply chain, and that he wants us to testify in front of the full House Agriculture Committee, so that his colleagues can learn what he learned during his visit. Congressman Scott also said that he wants CSPAN to cover the testimony, giving the whole nation the opportunity to learn about regenerative organic. The day could not have gone any better,” said Jeff Moyer.
BIG AG’S PLATFORM IS SIMPLY NOT VIABLE
Getting our federal government to pay attention to the merits of regenerative organic farming has been an uphill battle, to say the least.
And it certainly doesn’t help matters when the Secretary of the USDA, Tom Vilsack, has come out against the EU’s Farm to Fork policy — which, by 2030, aims to cut pesticide use by 50% and increase organic farmland to 25% — and instead has opted for “a voluntary, incentive-based approach” that favors biotechnology and gene editing.
That being said, the media is shining a bright light on how this technology is failing.
Last August, The New York Times wrote a jaw-dropping story called “Attack of the Superweeds: Herbicides are losing the war — and agriculture might never be the same again.” This piece reaffirmed what all of us in organic have known for a long time; that GMOs and their accompanying pesticides — which include herbicides and insecticides — comprise an agricultural platform that just doesn’t work.
Now, with the war in Ukraine, our country’s reliance on synthetic fertilizers made from inputs sourced from that part of the world has put conventional farmers in a far more precarious position.
If what we have now were working, in terms of a stable and climate-friendly food supply, one could conclude that the chairman of the House Agriculture Committee may not be as enthusiastic about another approach. However, Congressman Scott voiced his support in having Jeff Moyer and Steve Nygren, founder of Serenbe, both testify before the Committee.
“Regenerative organic farming, with its cover crops and crop rotation, is a real and practical solution for climate change, and it reduces the need for chemical inputs,” said Jeff Moyer. “Most importantly, we can deploy this system at scale. To have Congressman Scott link ‘regenerative’ and ‘organic’ in one sentence was critical. We were thrilled.”
It goes without saying that to have such an influential member of Congress take a sincere interest in regenerative organic farming is a huge development for our industry, and we will be sure to keep Organic Insider readers informed as this story unfolds.
(From l. to r., CheFarmer Matthew Raiford, co-owner of Strong Roots 9, Gilliard Farms, and Board Chair for Georgia Organics; Steve Nygren; Congressman David Scott; Jeff Moyer)
Max Goldberg, Founder
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