Main Menu New

Home > News > Press Releases > Sustainable ag practices are a win-win, Montana organic farmer tells Congress

Sustainable ag practices are a win-win, Montana organic farmer tells Congress

Organic Trade Association member stresses importance of strong organic standards

Maggie McNeil
(202) 403-8514
(202) 615-7997
Washington , DC
April 11, 2019
) — 

Nate Powell-Palm might not be a farmer now if it were not for organic. The organic Montana farmer told members of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture on Wednesday that the organic way of farming has given him and other farmers the opportunity to use sustainable agricultural practices, earn premium prices for their crops and stay in farming – and flourish – as a result.

Testifying at a hearing on “Economic Opportunities for Farmers through Sustainable Agricultural Practices,” Powell-Palm of Cold Springs Organics in Gallatin Valley, Montana, said that “when farmers can receive a premium in the market for sustainable practices, it’s a win-win.”

The Organic Trade Association member, who raises 875 acres of certified organic wheat, field peas, straw, cattle and hay in his operation in southern Montana, stressed the importance of the organic certification process in the United States in ensuring that farmers engaging in sustainable practices are fairly compensated.

“It’s this transparent, rigorous certification process that allows farmers to be economically compensated for clearly defined land stewardship practices,” he said.

He continued: “In order for this opportunity to stay available to farmers like myself, USDA must be accountable to advancing organic standards and to emphasizing continuous improvement in the organic public-private partnership.”

Powell-Palm, a first-generation farmer, told lawmakers about his journey in agriculture and to organic. He got an early start in agriculture, getting involved in 4-H in grade school and raising a steer at the tender age of nine. He said that from that young experience on, he was determined to get into the cattle business. He first landed in the world of organic in 2008 when – as a teenager -- he applied for and received organic certification from the Montana Department of Agriculture, becoming the state’s youngest organic certified farmer.

The premium prices he received for his organic, grass-fed cattle enabled him to lease larger pieces of land and expand his operation. His all-organic operation now grows hay for his cattle, various grains and legumes, and a few years ago he entered into a contract arrangement with Annie’s Mac and Cheese, a subsidiary of General Mills, to provide organic yellow peas and other rotational crops for a new line of pasta that uses all the rotational crops used by Montana organic farmers.

“I chose organic…and everything I have just shared with you is possible because of the trust consumers place in the organic seal,” he said.

“As we see throughout the country, the challenges of farming, including climate change, are resulting in farmers being forced to give up their agricultural heritage and profession. But we do have a solution: certified organic farming,” Powell-Palm said in his prepared testimony.

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace.