On Tuesday, the Senate passed the Farm Bill. The bipartisan initiative includes exciting provisions for organic agriculture, but also some disappointing developments in the voting process for the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB).
Here’s what the bill provides for the organic industry, as detailed in a release from the Organic Farmers Association:
- Commitment to organic integrity by providing USDA with the additional authorities needed to track organic imports from around the world by including the Organic Farmer and Consumer Protection Act in the final language. One important change requires products to have an electronic import certificate. The current system was created when the U.S. organic market was a smaller, domestically supplied industry. USDA’s system needed updating. This is a win for organic farmers.
- Mandatory funding for the organic certification cost-share program, which supports farmers to enter the organic market by reimbursing some of the annual fees for organic certification. Carry over and new funding will secure $40 million for the program.
- Permanent mandatory funding for organic research in the bill incrementally increases funding for the Organic Research and Extensive Initiative (OREI) program from its current $20 million per year to $50 million per year by 2023. Organic research is imperative to support farmers’ ability to overcome organic production challenges and to continue to meet the growing consumer demand for organic food. Increased organic research benefits all American producers by gaining new knowledge to grow more sustainably.
- Organic Data Initiative (ODI) received $5 million in funding for USDA’s organic data collection program that provides accurate market and production information for the organic community. Accurate data is needed to better understand and predict the growing organic food and farm market.
To understand how the voting process for NOSB has changed, read the full release.