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Coalition Forms to Save Nevada’s Organic Certification Program

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savenvorganicsflat-555x312-4933213-3508080We believe organics should be a component of Nevada agriculture and have signed on ThisisReno as a supporter of this effort. -Bob

Great Basin Community Food Co-op urges action from supporters

The Nevada Department of Agriculture’s organic certification program may be cut due to budget constraints, leaving Nevada as one of the only states in the Western Corridor without an organic certification program at the state level. This would force Nevada’s organic producers to seek certification from other state programs in order to meet the increasing demand for organically grown produce, and would reduce brand awareness for Nevada agriculture among consumers in the state.

“We believe that having a Nevada certified organic program is vital in order to properly respond to the increasing demand for local and organic products, and to help improve the nutrition of Nevadans,” said Amber Sallaberry, general manager of the Great Basin Community Food Co-op. “We believe that organic products are more healthful and better for the environment. We don’t want Nevada producers to be deterred from seeking this important certification.”

Budget cuts have threatened the program in the past, but it has been saved after individuals and businesses rallied in support. Nevada farmers, consumers and purveyors that champion organic products may all be affected by the loss of this program.

“I would hate to see this set back the Reno local food movement by 100 years by doing away with the organic certification,” said Mark Estee, owner of Reno Local Food Group. “It is hard enough on the farmers and ranchers given the growing conditions in Nevada. Why make it more difficult to obtain the organic certification when this is what the consumer wants?”

The program requires $65,000 as a short-term fix to continue operating, but the real solution requires long-term, sustainable funding. Many members of the program’s Organic Advisory Council are suggesting the addition of an organic livestock program, which would provide certification for eggs and meat. This would create additional revenue streams as new producers seek this certification, and would allow the producers to use the organic label in their marketing and potentially sell at a higher price point that many consumers are willing to pay.

The Nevada Department of Agriculture established the state program in order to verify that products are grown and handled according to USDA organic standards, giving consumers a level of confidence about the products they purchase and providing eligible Nevada producers local access to certification that allows them to market their agricultural products as organic.

The Great Basin Community Food Co-op urges all organic food advocates–whether farmers, consumers, or business owners–to have their voices heard by contacting their state assembly members and senators.

Bob Conrad
Bob Conradhttp://thisisreno.com
Bob Conrad is publisher, editor and co-founder of This Is Reno. He has served in communications positions for various state agencies and earned a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2011. He is also a part time instructor at UNR and sits on the boards of the Nevada Press Association and Nevada Open Government Coalition.

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