NCGA Seeks Support for Organic Agriculture in Waxman-Markey Bill

Jun 15, 2009

National Cooperative Grocers Association (NCGA), a business services cooperative for 111 consumer-owned natural food co-ops located throughout the United States, is encouraging the U.S. Congress to acknowledge and reward organic agriculture’s role in reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and mitigating climate change in the current American Clean Energy and Security Act, also known as the Waxman-Market climate change legislation.

“The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has stated what many in the food business already know: that organic agriculture systems contribute less to GHG than conventional agriculture, and have greater potential to mitigate carbon emissions,” said Robynn Shrader, chief executive officer for NCGA.“We hope that with this historic bill, U.S. Congress will realize the same, and in doing so, reward organic farmers and other organic food producers for their safe and healthy practices.”

With this in mind, NCGA, a charter member of the National Organic Coalition (NOC), is joining NOC in distributing a letter to Hon. Henry Waxman, chair of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, Hon. Edward Markey, chair of the committee’s subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, and other legislators to encourage that they include offset credits in the Waxman-Markey bill for select organic practices. Authored by NOC, the letter requests credits for farmers and producers who practice:

“1) Certified organic agriculture for its demonstrated ability to fundamentally reduce GHGs; 2) Cover cropping and abstaining from fallow fields, particularly with leguminous crops which can reduce synthetic fertilizer use and sequester carbon; 3) Abstaining from synthetic pesticide use; 4) Abstaining from synthetic fertilizer use; 5) Addition of compost and/or manures into soils at an appropriate rate determined by a nutrient management plan; 6) Organically managed and rotational pasture, range and paddock lands for meat and dairy production for their demonstrated ability to sequester carbon.”

“In the U.S., in which more than 90 percent of the food is produced through conventional methods, it is estimated that the food system uses 20 percent of our fossil fuels,” Shrader noted. “And, much of it comes from industrial agriculture systems that use 40 billion pounds of synthetic fertilizers and one billion pounds of synthetic pesticides. The production of these synthethic fertilizers and pesticides alone accounts for 480 million tons of GHG emissions annually.

“These numbers are astounding and frightening,” she added. “That is one reason that NCGA advocates that the Waxman-Markey Bill strongly enforce conventional agricultural systems to seek methods to reduce their GHG emissions.”

Individuals may download a copy of the NCGA-signed NOC letter on the NOC website.