Each year since 2009, the federal Organic Initiative has continued to be funded, and participation has grown.
In 2012 for the first time, there were three application periods to apply for federal dollars in amounts of up to $20,000 per year or up to $80,000 over six years. The money assists farmers with efforts such as developing conservation plans, transitioning to organic production, improving soil quality while minimizing erosion, improving pest management, developing a grazing plan and composting.
According to the USDA, the program saw a 20 percent increase in participants over 2010 -- from 1,384 to 1,667. However, the average dollar value of the contracts dipped "resulting in a drop from just over $23.8 million funded into contracts in 2010 to just over $22.5 million funded in 2011.”
The USDA does not have a breakdown of funding specifically for the Organic Initative.
We did find overall funding figures for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, of which the Organic Initiative is a part. It's funded by the 2008 farm bill, which runs through Sept. 30, 2012. According to the USDA, the program got $1.2 billion in 2011, an estimated $1.4 billion in 2012 and a projected budget of $1.403 billion in 2013.
On the insurance side, the USDA began offering insurance in 2011 specific to organic production of corn, soybean, cotton and tomato crops. The policies weren't new; they just took into account the higher price of growing food organically. Now more than 350 organically produced commodities are covered. The program, however, has its critics who say the payouts still aren't high enough to reflect their higher costs, which inhibits farm development.
Still, there is substantial progress. With ongoing funding for farmers to grow crops organically or transition their farms to organic, and insurance policies tailored to organic practices now available, this pledge has been fulfilled. We rate it a Promise Kept.