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Biden Investing $300M in Organic Agriculture

I noted earlier this month that South Dakota is not capitalizing on organic agriculture as eagerly as other states. Perhaps President Biden can help:

Details of USDA’s new $300 million Organic Transition Initiative, funded in part by the American Rescue Plan, were revealed Monday. The program provides opportunities for new and beginning farmers to transition to organic production to boost income potential and expand direct consumer access to organic foods.

…USDA will invest $100 million in each of the following three initiative components:

  • A new wraparound technical assistance effort, which includes a mentoring programs and online resource assistance.
  • Financial support for conservation and risk management to help defray organic transition costs. This includes conservation planning, reduced costs associated with certification and lower crop insurance premiums.
  • Establish and strengthen supply chains between producers and markets, which includes processing food and distribution.

“We’re excited about this opportunity,” Vilsack said. “We’re excited about the chance that it gives young farmers and beginning farmers to take full advantage of a high value proposition. And, we’re really excited about the climate benefits that accrue as a result of organic production” [link added; Matthew Wilde and Susan Payne, “USDA Announces Help for Organic Farmers,” Progressive Farmer, 2022.08.23].

The ag-industrial Noem-Arnold family got where it is today thanks to lots of big government checks. Maybe President Biden’s smaller investment in smaller farmers can expand South Dakota’s organic agriculture wealth and workforce, too.


  1. P. Aitch 2022-08-24 09:55

    Kent Duane Anderson made $71 million illegally by passing off natural grain as organic grain.
    That shows me that there’s money to be made planting organic grain.
    It’ll take ten years to materialize but setting aside and planting a quarter every year will be worthwhile.
    *This is where Edwin tells us new things and new ideas in agriculture and in life are bad and should be avoided.

  2. Edwin Arndt 2022-08-24 13:47

    Well, new ideas are great if they are practical. Before chemicals we used to cultivate our
    corn 3 times in a season. In small grain weed control without chemicals is nigh unto
    impossible. A quarter of land is 1/2 half mile square. I don’t know of a good way to control
    weeds on that many acres without chemicals. If there were a good way I suspect it would already
    be adopted. I’m not saying a way will never be developed, but I don’t think It is here yet.
    We had a cow herd of approx. 125 head (cow calf operation). That produced enough manure
    to cover about 60 acres. The other 2000 acres needed chemical fertilizer. If practical methods of weed
    control and fertilization without chemicals that are cost effective are developed you can be sure
    that farmers will adopt them. Organic farming on a large scale would present some tremendous
    logistical problems.

  3. sx123 2022-08-24 14:09

    Grasshoppers will love farmers that go organic…
    Say goodbye to anything with leaves on them not in a greenhouse when there’s an outbreak.

    As for apples, is it possible to grow apples in SD? Sure. But, those late spring freezes are bud killers, and there are probably other good reasons why Washington produces most of the apples in the nation.

  4. larry kurtz 2022-08-24 14:16

    The more Republicans who die of cancer the better.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2022-08-24 15:15

    Edwin, you sure enjoy being skeptical. I wish you also enjoyed providing evidence to back up your skepticism. I linked at the top economic data that I provided a couple weeks ago showing other states making significantly more per acre on organic agriculture than South Dakota is.

  6. Edwin Arndt 2022-08-24 15:37

    Cory, the United States produces roughly 14.5 to 15 billion bushels of corn
    each year. Can you tell me how many of those bushels are produced organically?
    This country produces 4.5 to 5 billion bushels of soybeans each year.
    Same question. I’m just being a realist.

  7. larry kurtz 2022-08-24 15:55

    West River can still be saved but East River is a toxic waste dump.

    In Santa Fe shoppers can buy any organic vegetable or fruit imaginable plus organically grown bison, beef, pork, chicken and emu at ten grocery stores, the Farmer’s market and co-op because the demand is there year round.

  8. Edwin Arndt 2022-08-24 16:01

    Larry, what percentage of the population can afford these organically grown foods?

  9. Arlo Blundt 2022-08-24 16:03

    The reasons Washington produces so many apples are: volcanic soils, a moderate climax with few late frosts and few periods of extremely high temps, adequate, somewhat predictable rainfall, a longer growing season than the great plains. Plenty of apple species have been hybridized to thrive in South Dakota climates but our weather requires constant attention to the health of the orchard. I had a neighbor who produced several varieties of excellent apples as well as pears and apricots. They watered a good deal in the summer. Hoppers and various succulent sucking bugs can be a problem for yields.

  10. Arlo Blundt 2022-08-24 16:07

    My neighbor also cleaned out a horse barn and shoveled the bedding around the trees and tilled it in. He claimed the horse urine, manure, and rotted hay made a good growing medium for fruit trees.

  11. larry kurtz 2022-08-24 16:50

    Organically grown foods are affordable for every shopper and pulse crops like lentils, split peas, pintos, black beans and chickpeas or garbanzo beans are protein rich legumes that restore lost nitrogen in corn-damaged soils.

    North Dakota is second in organically grown beans and grains and Montana Senator Jon Tester raises organic barley for craft breweries.

    Risk averse South Dakota growers are far more content to plant chemically dependent subsidized crops because the brain drain has erased the labor pool.

  12. larry kurtz 2022-08-24 17:35

    Two markets South Dakota is missing is tofu or organic bean curd and domestic mushrooms.

  13. grudznick 2022-08-24 17:38

    Look, nobody likes split pea and ham soup more than grudznick, but you buy it in a can. Organically grown foods are a scam. What we need are robot tractor drivers to get more legumes in the ground. Robot tractor drivers can work 24×7.

  14. larry kurtz 2022-08-24 17:43

    No doubt Mr. Arndt will relish the glyphosate infused ramen being manufactured in Belle Fourche.

  15. grudznick 2022-08-24 18:00

    Lar, I’m going to have some folks cook me up some of this stuff, it sounds delicious. Which is your favorite?

  16. P. Aitch 2022-08-24 18:55

    South Dakota kids are taught to be afraid to fail. The ones that are taught that failure is a valid part of innovation leave South Dakota. Not only are SD kids taught that failure is bad, but they’re also taught to ridicule other kids who fail. It’s a self-esteem issue that haunts the state like a pariah. Failure needs to be embraced. It’s not even trying and making up excuses why something won’t work that should be ridiculed. It is in high innovation school systems.

  17. Edwin Arndt 2022-08-24 19:29

    I would like to hear from one honest to goodness farmer or even one
    honest to goodness organic farmer that would refute anything that I
    posted .

  18. sx123 2022-08-24 19:47

    When everything was organic, there was a lot more famine in the world.

    Thankfully scientists developed artificial means to control pests and fertilize.

  19. P. Aitch 2022-08-24 20:50

    Negativity bias is strong with this one.

  20. All Mammal 2022-08-25 09:55

    Go Native and plant the Three Sisters. Save our soil.

  21. John 2022-08-25 13:13

    This “organic” discussion ought be larger . . . to include water and pure food laws.
    The mega-drought in the US west, and in many places in the world, will re-price and re-prioritize water and agricultural commodities. Imagine the fallacy of mis-priced water to raise alfalfa to ship to China – and likely collecting farm subsidies, on top of that. It appears we built an unsustainable agricultural and economic system.

    Deutsche Welle documentaries are exceptional. They have a running series on global water. The latest is: The Last Resources: Who Owns the Water:
    Other titles to view include:
    Thrist: Humans vs Nature
    Is Water the New Gold

  22. DaveFN 2022-08-25 17:32

    Edwin Arndt

    What you say regarding the difficulty of scaling organic farming to the sheer size of the population requiring food makes plenty of sense. Furthermore,

    “…People need to realize that an organic label is not a straightforward guarantee of the most environmentally-friendly product.”

    One of the factors that raise the environmental cost of organic product is that more land must be used to generate the same volume of food, due to the reduced use of fertilizers. This need to devote greater acreage to agricultural production leads to deforestation, which reduces the storage capacity of carbon in soils. The final effect is an increase in GHG emissions responsible for climate change.

    Organic cereals generate more greenhouse gases per unit of product than their conventional equivalents. This effect is highlighted in a study published in 2018 in the journal Nature. The authors analyzed two specific crops in Sweden, concluding that organic peas have a 50% greater climate impact than conventional peas, while this difference increases to almost 70% for wheat.

    The main novelty of the study was that the authors developed a standardised methodology to measure the opportunity cost of land in terms of carbon storage. Previous research had compared the direct greenhouse gas emissions of organic and conventional production, but according to the authors, the indirect effect due to alternative uses of land if it is not devoted to agriculture is often underestimated.

    The authors point out that, thanks to international trade, this effect is transmitted from one region to another. “Agriculture always uses land,” study director Timothy Searchinger of Princeton University (USA) tells OpenMind. “If there are lower yields on one hectare of land, then to produce the same food, you need to have more land producing food elsewhere, and that means this land is storing less carbon,” says Searchinger. “If you are in a country that is not deforesting land, food production still has to come from somewhere.”

    In turn, this environmental cost of organic farming is passed on to livestock. However, the authors clarify that each product is a particular case, and that the most ecologically responsible options are therefore about specific food choices: “For example, eating organic beans or organic chicken is much better for the climate than eating conventionally produced beef,” says study co-author Stefan Wirsenius, from Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden). In general, chicken, pork, fish, eggs or vegetables have a lower climate impact than beef and sheep. ”

    “Organic Farming: Not Always So Environmentally Friendly

  23. DaveFN 2022-08-25 17:33

    Edwin Arndt

    As far as so-called “organic” pesticides, the above article continues:

    A University of California survey revealed that the main reason most consumers choose organic food was the avoidance of pesticides (70%), ahead of freshness (68%) or health and nutrition (67%). It is not surprising then that this alleged absence of pesticides is noted as one of the most widespread myths about organic food, as a majority of consumers seem to be unaware that these products can indeed be grown using pesticides, as long as they are also organic, i.e. of non-synthetic origin.

    But are natural pesticides safer than artificial pesticides? Not necessarily. In a direct comparison, organic pesticides such as copper sulphate or pyrethrum have higher acute and chronic toxicity than the synthetic pesticides chlorpyrifos or chlorothalonil. The bioinsecticide Bti (natural toxins from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis), used for mosquito control and applied on wetland crops such as rice, is not toxic to humans, but several studies have shown that it is harmful to amphibians. Recent studies have shown that Spinosad, an organic pesticide extracted from another bacterium, is more damaging to insects in general and at much lower doses than imidacloprid, a synthetic insecticide that in 2018 was banned in the European Union because of its damage to bee colonies.”

  24. mike from iowa 2022-08-25 17:45

    Back when I was actively engaged in farming and feeding cattle we used copper sulfate, sparingly, in wooden water tank to help control algae. It came as blue crystals and gave oiff colorful sparks when tossed into a fire.

  25. larry kurtz 2022-08-25 18:12

    Recall Country of Origin Labeling was repealed during the second Obama term to shield American commodities from scrutiny because every ag product, meats both wild and domestic not grown organically in the United States is contaminated with atrazine, neonicotinoids, glyphosate, dicamba, DDT, mercury, lead, PFAS, E. coli, Imazalil plus other toxins and pathogens.

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