On August 3, Organic Farmers Association Director, Kate Mendenhall, and Steering Committee Chair, Jim Riddle, presented testimonies at the Farm Bill Listening Session: Conversations in the Field in Morgan, Minnesota. Testimonies include the need for investing in organic for the 2018 Farm Bill.

For more than 30 years, Jim Riddle has been an organic farmer, gardener, inspector, educator, policy analyst, author and avid organic eater. Jim was founding chair of the Winona Farmers Market Association and the International Organic Inspectors Association, and co-author of the International Organic Inspection Manual. Jim served on the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Organic Advisory Task Force for many years and was instrumental in passage of Minnesota’s landmark organic certification cost-share program, which now is a Farm Bill program that provides 75% reimbursement for organic certification costs nationwide. Jim worked for the University of Minnesota as Organic Outreach Coordinator and as Organic Research Grants Coordinator for Ceres Trust. Jim owns and operates Blue Fruit Farm, where he and his wife grow blueberries, black currants, elderberries, aronia berries, honeyberries and more. Jim served on the Leadership Team for eOrganic, the national Extension Community of Practice for organic agriculture and on the Citizens Board of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Jim is former chair of the USDA National Organic Standards Board and is a leading voice for organic agriculture.

“Data complied by the National Organic Coalition shows that the US market for organic food has grown 80% over the last six years, while the amount of certified organic American cropland has only grown 12% during the same period. This situation has led to a massive increase in questionable imports, and points to several major opportunities for the next Farm Bill.” Click here to view Jim Riddle’s Farm Bill testimony.

Kate Mendenhall worked with Pesticide Action Network and CUESA at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco before traveling to the east to work for NOFA-NY for a decade, the last five years as their Executive Director. Now Kate lives in her hometown in Okoboji, Iowa working with the Iowa Organic Association and starting her own organic mixed livestock farm.

“Organic agriculture is the future of American agriculture. It is the fastest growing sector of U.S. agriculture. Organic family farmers are able to remain viable because organic farms are 35% more profitable than average farms, and organic agriculture helps to maintain rural vitality and healthy drinking water, air, and soil-elements essential for our country’s future.” Click here to view Kate Mendenhall’s Farm Bill testimony.