Crop Rotation Variance Granted for Organic Farmers

Due to weather problems, Iowa ag department gets USDA to change planting rule for organic farmers this year.

The USDA's National Organic Agriculture Program, or NOP, has accepted a request made by the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship to grant a temporary variance to the NOP crop rotation requirement due to 2008 heavy rains and flooding in the state.

"Organic certification requires longer crop rotations. Organic farmers, like other farmers, are faced with challenges planting crops late in the 2008 season," says Bill Northey, Iowa Secretary of Agriculture. "This variance gives organic farmers some much needed flexibility when making decisions on planting this year."

The Iowa department of ag made the request to USDA on June 9 in response to the significant and historic rainfalls that occurred frequently during much of May and June. Consequently, there have been very few opportunities for farmers to complete fieldwork due to saturated soils, flooding and severe weather.

Variance provides rotation flexibility

Organic farmers are faced with the challenge of either not planting a cash crop this year to comply with the crop rotation regulation or planting the same crop, such as soybeans, in a field where that crop was planted last year. This variance will allow organic farmers the flexibility they need to make viable cropping decisions during this extraordinary time.

Organic farmers are committed to organic practices and requirements, such as using no pesticides or fertilizers, and this temporary variance will not affect the integrity of the organic crops that they produce this year.

The Iowa Department of Ag will continue to work with the Iowa Organic Advisory Council, Iowa Organic Association and the National Organic Program during this time period as it monitors weather conditions impacting Iowa organic producers. Certification organizations operating in the state and organic farmers will be notified of this variance. For more information contact the state ag department's Ag Diversification and Market Development Bureau at 515-281-5783.

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