By Duan Liu
It is now the harvest season of the year, but the Colle Farmers Market, as an advocate for local organic food, is not so happy this year.
November is usually the time farmers in Wisconsin start to apply for the organic certification subsidy that funded them in cultivating organic foods. However, this year many farmers are disappointed and face adverse effects because of a bill that had been passed earlier this January. The U.S Congress passed the bill which discontinued the National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program due to the limits in budget of the Department of Agriculture. With the strict requirements of certification, such as no usage of fertilizer for at least three years and the mandatory usage of organic seeds, the farmers already have a great burden to provide healthy and organic food for the local community. The discontinuation of the subsidy would undoubtedly discourage their work. As a result, many farmers returned back to conventional farming while others were suffering the financial lost due to the high cost of organic farming.
Colle Farmers Market, an online community that advocates sustainable consumption and responsible conservation, protested against the government’s decision and considered it as a harmful policy to the current market which has a huge surplus in demand of organic food. Its co-founder Philippe van den Bosche explained that helping farmers convert to organic farming can bring benefits to farmers by maintaining a cleaner and more effective agricultural ecosystem, to consumers by providing healthier and cheaper food, and to society by protecting the environment from chemicals in conventional fertilizers.
“The federal government needs to do more to protect the rights of organic farmers,” Philippe said. “It’s no secret that organic farming can help people live better, live longer and keep the earth healthy. Cutting funding to these farmers is not only harmful to them, but devastating to the world.”
So far, Colle Farmers Market has already written letters to Congress and published articles to lobby for the farmers’ rights and advocate organic farming. “As we believe in the benefits of organic farming,” Philippe said, “we oppose anything that makes it harder to be accessed.”