In Brunswick, USDA Under Secretary Moffitt, Rep. Pingree Meet with Mainers Leading the Way in Organic Farming
Under Secretary Moffitt’s trip to Maine comes just days after the USDA unveiled $2 billion in new funding to strengthen food supply chains and transform the American food system to be fairer, more competitive, and more resilient.
BRUNSWICK, MAINE – Today in Brunswick, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt joined Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) and Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) Executive Director Sarah Alexander for a roundtable discussion with Maine organic farmers. While at Crystal Spring Community Farm, a certified organic produce farm, Moffitt and Pingree heard from Maine farmers who are leading the way in organic farming to discuss newly-announced USDA funding opportunities, the impact of climate change, supply chain resilience, and more. Following the roundtable discussion, Crystal Spring Community Farm Owner and Manager Seth Kroeck led the group on a tour of the working farm, highlighting how federal programs and investments have helped the farm grow and be successful.
“It is an honor to join Congresswoman Pingree and some of Maine’s organic farmers as USDA sets forth our vision to transform our food system,” said USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt. “Specifically, our forthcoming $300 million Organic Transition Initiative, will build upon the support already provided under the Organic Certification and Transition Cost Share Program, to help farmers transition to organic production. This effort will deliver wraparound technical assistance, including farmer-to-farmer mentorship, provide support through conservation and crop insurance assistance, and fund organic market development projects, helping to build more and better climate smart markets for farmers.”
“Our food system is the foundation of a strong, functioning America, and the pandemic exposed cracks in that foundation. The USDA’s plan will transform our food system to be more resilient, and its $2 billion investment exemplifies the Biden Administration’s understanding that agriculture is a key part of the climate solution,” said Congresswoman Pingree, a longtime organic farmer and member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and the House Agriculture Committee. “Maine’s farming community is leading the way in organics, and I’m thrilled Under Secretary Moffitt got a chance to hear from them directly today. From dealing with ongoing challenges due to the pandemic and food supply chain bottlenecks to having to evolve practices as the climate becomes more volatile, federal support from the USDA is vital to their success.”
"We're excited that Under Secretary Moffitt is getting to hear directly from our organic producers. Maine faces unique challenges in infrastructure, distribution, market access and investments in our farms, and the new USDA programs will help provide new opportunities to expand our local and regional food system,” said MOFGA Executive Director Sarah Alexander. “We're also hopeful that the $300 million announced for helping farms transition to organic, will allow even more farms in Maine to become certified organic, which is critical for creating climate smart agriculture."
“The new programs explained today at Crystal Spring Farm by USDA Under Secretary Moffitt to benefit small farms are a solid step towards making our local and regional food systems work for everyone,” said Crystal Spring Community Farm Owner and Manager Seth Kroeck. “As an organic farm that sells produce wholesale and direct to consumers support within Maine, we welcome the attention these programs bring to getting more produce from state growers to local eaters. We deeply appreciate the work of Rep. Pingree and her staff to bring USDA attention and funding to smaller farms that are vital to food production here in Maine.”
Under Secretary Moffitt’s trip to Maine comes just days after the USDA unveiled $2 billion in new funding to strengthen food supply chains and transform the American food system to be fairer, more competitive, and more resilient. The framework includes up to $300 million in a new Organic Transition Initiative to provide comprehensive support for farmers to transition to organic production. Learn more about the framework here.
Through Pingree’s leadership on House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and the House Agriculture Committee, the 2018 Farm Bill more than doubled funding for organic research, created the first federal produce prescription program, and established the first federal local food program with permanent funding.
In early 2020, she introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act, a comprehensive bill that recognizes farmers as an integral part of the climate solution.