Here's a few things Congress did in conference for the 2010 ag appropriations bill, which now goes to the full house and senate.
- The Organic Transitions Research Program was increased from $1.8 million last year to $5 million. This is a competitive grant program, which will fund research on the way organic farming affects water quality.
- The Value Added Producer Grants program was increased from $18.9 million last year to $20.4 million. This money can be used by farmers, ranchers, fisherman or other producers who want to "add value" to their underlying product, either by making a new product (flour from wheat, for example) or going for a particular label (like organic) that enhances a commodity's value.
- The Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program had $5 million added to its $4 million mandatory base, so that $9 million will be available to help support rural microbusiness development in this program's first year. Food and farming can be among the businesses funded, though the entrepreneurs must be in rural areas.
- The Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) program was increased from $2.6 last year to $2.8 million. This service helps farmers with advice on sustainable agriculture issues.
- The Organic Marketing and Data Collection Initiative was increased from $500,000 to $750,000. The money will be used to analyze the organic market.
- Finally, funding for the National Organic Program (which just got a new director) went to $7 million from $3.9 million.
The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition said the only disappointment was a token increase for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE) program. "But we have reason to expect that next year's (Fiscal Year 2011) Obama Budget will propose a significant increase, which will make it easier to persuade Congress to increase it," the group said.