With much deliberation, the Farm Bill of 2013 has included some positive opportunities for organic farming. The bill is crucial for research funding, especially for organic farming. The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has been fighting to get support for organic from Congress through Michigan’s Senator Debbie Stabenow. The Farm Bill in 2002 and 2008 has introduced programs that made it possible for more data to be collected in support of organic farming. However, many of these programs “face uncertain futures,” according to National Policy Organizer of the OFRF (Ryan).
Organic farming has potential to transform the way we use agriculture, however, “Organics still represent a minuscule fraction — less than 1 percent — of the nearly 800 million acres of American agriculture” (Freundl). Organic farming lacks infrastructure, government aid, and public support. Many people still do not understand what organic actually means. Nonconventional farming, also known as organic, reduces the use of pesticides for fruits and vegetables as well as the use of hormones to produce meat. With more funding for research, there can be a better understanding on the benefits of organic and if it really works. For example, a study conducted at the University of Michigan in 2007 confirmed that “organic farming is less environmentally harmful yet can potentially produce more than enough food,” (Can Organic Feed Us All?). In addition, “University of California-Davis agricultural scientist Bill Liebhardt found that organic corn yields were 94 percent of conventional yields, organic wheat yields were 97 percent, and organic soybean yields were 94 percent. Organic tomatoes showed no yield difference,” (Can Organic Feed Us All?).
The University of Michigan study also found that “planting green manures between growing seasons provided enough nitrogen to replace synthetic fertilizers, “(Can Organic Feed Us All?). Therefore, with more positive research, organic activists can prove to legislators that organic can be a sustainable and efficient change to farming. More funding for research similar to this study can create larger support groups for organic farming. In addition, with similar findings, legislators can understand the need for more funding to increase organic production. One way to help farmers get up and running is through loan programs. The Farm Bill has also allowed for the application process for loan programs to be revised into a more simplified application for farmers to easily apply. Through the new program, “farmers can apply for microloans of up to $35,000,” which can help stimulate jobs in “rural America” and create “lucrative market opportunities for American family farmers,” (OFRF.org).
Yet to make a complete shift to organic is nearly impossible due to the large number of lobbyists who have an incentive in promoting conventional farming. For example, "Corporate interest in agriculture and the way agriculture research has been conducted in land grant institutions, with a lot of influence by the chemical companies and pesticide companies as well as fertilizer companies— all have been playing an important role in convincing the public that you need to have these inputs to produce food," (Can Organic Farming Feed Us All?). Therefore, to continue receiving such striking evidence on organic farming, Michigan legislators need to organize a funding plan to help organic farmers receive more loan programs, and grants to local universities that conduct ground breaking research. For example, the University of Michigan and Michigan State University are leading schools in research for our state and should be giving grants to find more evidence. In time, the answer to whether or not organic farming can replace conventional farming forever will be known.
Freundl, Edward. “Organic Farming a Growing Trend.” Mackinac.org. 13 March 2009. Mackinac Center. 6 Aug. 2013. http://www.mackinac.org/10375
Ryan, Denise. “Press Release: Organic Farming Matters in Michigan.” OFRF.org. 13 Jan. 2013. Organic Farming Research Foundation. 6 Aug. 2013. http://ofrf.org/news/press-release-organic-farming-matters-michigan “Can Organic Farming Feed Us All?” WorldWatch.org. June 2006. Worldwatch Institute. 6 Aug. 2013. http://www.worldwatch.org/node/4060
“Organic Agriculture for Health and Prosperity.” OFRF.org. 2012. Organic Farming Research Foundation. 6 Aug. 2013. http://www.ofrf.org/sites/ofrf.org/files/pdf/flyer-opportunities-to-invest.pdf.