Local Food Purchasing and Organic Conversion Policies – Woodbury County, Iowa

Date: 21 Nov 2008 | posted in: agriculture | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

This Iowa county has a two-pronged policy approach to encourage the production and use of locally grown organic food. First, there is a property tax rebate for farmers who convert from conventional to organic farming practices. The second approach is a mandate that the County purchase locally grown organic food through its food service contractor.

Property Tax Rebate for Conversion from Conventional Farming to Certified Organic

InJune 2005, the Woodbury County Board of Supervisors adopted their”Organics Conversion Policy.” They policy provides a commitment of 50,000 per year for five years to fund property tax rebates for farmers willing to convert from conventional to organic farming practices.

TheWoodbury County Organics Conversion Board shall allocate the total$50,000 in real property tax rebates between multiple program applicants; with a maximum of twenty percent (20%) of the total available tax benefits going to any one applicant.

Withthe rapid expansion and growth of the organic food industry, the efforts in Woodbury County could serve as a model for other rural counties that are looking for ways to revitalize their rural communities.

The county program is just one source of funding and support available to farmers moving to organic production. Farmers who take advantage of the tax rebates will receive substantial support from the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, the Leopold Center located in Ames, Iowa, local educational institutions, and from existing regional organic growers.

Thecoop, Organic Valley, offers intensive support to farmers who want to convert to organic including the “Transition to Organic Fund,” a financial assistance program to help offset the costs for dairy farmers who are transitioning to organic.

Mandate that the County purchase locally grown organic food

InJanuary 2006, the Woodbury County board adopted a resolution titled the”Local Food Purchase Policy.” The policy requires the County to purchase locally grown organic food, through its food service contractor. The resolution has the potential of shifting $281,000 in annual food purchases to a local farmer-operated cooperative, thus increasing local demand that will spur increased production and processing.

The Local Food Purchase policy defines”local” as that food which is grown and processed within 100 miles of Sioux City, Iowa, and the limitation may be extended if there is not a supplier within that radius.

If there happens not to be a local source for an organic variety of a particular food item, the policy gives a strong second level preference for local non-organic food production to meet unmet demand.

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