Farmer Nick Maravell Testifies Before Senate Subcommittee
Urges “Multiple Models Approach” in Combating Water Pollution
Oct. 4, 2011, Washington, DC—In Senate testimony today, Nick Maravell of Nick’s Organic Farm in Potomac, MD, urges leaders to help farms combat potential nutrient pollution of our waterways through flexible programs tailored to each region’s needs. Accommodating the diverse farming operations around the country in a “multiple models approach” is key to continued water quality improvement, he says.
“Let me emphasize that American agriculture is very varied, and that diversity is a tremendous strength that should be preserved. Because there is no one model that should apply to all farms, our national policy and programs should have the flexibility to accommodate our legitimate differences. I like to call this the multiple models approach,” says Maravell before the Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife of the Senate Committee on Environmental and Public Works.
Maravell urges expanding the Chesapeake Bay Watershed Initiative created in 2008 to help farmers lower nutrient runoff that can arise from manure, conventional fertilizers and soil erosion. Farmers can use specific practices matched to their type of farming system to reduce nutrient pollution, he says. States could use more flexibility so they can allocate funds to those programs and types of technical assistance that will have maximum impact on reducing nutrient pollution, he adds.
Noting that the marketplace rewards farmers who reduce nutrient pollution, Maravell says, “Ourmarkets are local and regional, and our minimal impact on the environment is…a major selling point.”Identifying the origin or production system of farm products helps consumers make informed choices, he adds. Maravell commends the Maryland Department of Agriculture’s efforts to advance the Maryland’s Best label, increase farmers markets, define “local” production, and administer the Maryland organic label.
Maravell applauds on-farm research conducted with technical assistance to find ways to improve fertility without increasing nutrient pollution. Despite current budget constraints, Maravell concludes policy makers should recognize, “It is far less expensive to prevent nutrient pollution than remediate its ill effects.”
Nick’s Organic Farm LLC (www.nicksorganicfarm.com) has certified organic operations in Potomac and Buckeystown, MD, producing row crops, grass-based livestock, vegetables, seed, and animal feeds. Farming organically since 1979, owner Nick Maravell is nationally recognized and has been called on to testify at both the federal and state level. He has been active in national and state development of organic legislation and standards, organic research priorities, and organic marketing issues. In late 2010, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appointed Maravell to serve on the National Organic Standards Board, a panel of unpaid experts established by Congress to set organic industry policy.
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