ries of national webinars with experts in organic production systems and certification requirements.
We’re also going to be looking at new communication
initiatives to reach out to growers, including upgrading
the NRCS website so that it offers real-time information
to help growers learn how to apply for the program and
find out what the rules are for the next cycle. Hopefully
the guidelines for the 2011 program will be out in October and there will be a good three months for that initial
sign-up period. Processors can help get the word out
about EQIP assistance to the producers they work with.
The whole organic industry can benefit from these programs.
OP: The USDA-NOP has called for an “Age of Enforcement.”
What are some of the steps being taken to make this a reality?
Lipson: Well, there’s a lot going on. Of course Miles
OP: You mentioned that the USDA is launching a “Know Your
McEvoy was hired as the new deputy administrator of the
NOP. The program has also finally received a budget in-
crease, and there are more increases authorized for com-
ing years. This allows the NOP to significantly increase
staff, especially for investigating and closing complaints,
i.e., the actual enforcement process. There is also a new
focus on international verification, which is an area that
many are concerned about. In addition, the NOP is
doing a revision of regulations and guidance documents
so that everything is much clearer and no one can say,
“We really didn’t know what the rules were.”
Miles has published his two- or three-year agenda for
addressing the list of items that the program has back-
logged for various reasons, including having been on a
real shoestring budget.
Farmer/Know Your Food” initiative. Can you tell us about
Lipson: “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food,” is a de-partment-wide initiative focused on economic opportunity for producers within local and regional food systems
and markets. Along with that there is a general intention
to more deliberately connect consumers and producers
across the board. It’s literally about knowing where your
food comes from and the farmers who produce it. One
way we are getting this information out is through a new
blog ( kyf.blogs.usda.gov) with frequent posts including
entries from the USDA secretary and deputy secretary.
There is also the “Know Your Farmer” website itself
( www.usda.gov/knowyourfarmer), which has a lot of information about programs and grant opportunities.