Farmers and others involved in organic production are keeping their fingers crossed as the House votes on the 2018 farm bill today. Organic production could see increased financial commitment to promoting research and helping farmers convert to this production method.
“This farm bill marks a key milestone for organic with $50 million in annual funding for the flagship Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) program by 2023, more than double the current funding level,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the Organic Trade Association in a recent press release. “This will ensure stable, baseline mandatory funding for the program, and will enable organic farmers to meet the unique challenges they face.”
The group says the bill also helps modernize and speed up federal efforts to prevent organic fraud, create a transparent marketplace and ensure all stakeholders are playing by the rules. In addition, the legislation provides funding for USDA’s National Organic Program to carry out compliance and enforcement action in U.S. and abroad.
There were four key changes or additions to organic commitment in this draft of the farm bill:
- Tools and funding for improved oversight of trade to ensure integrity of organic products throughout the global supply chain
- Increased funding for OREI from $20 million per year to $50 million per year by 2023
- Funds for organic certification cost-share program to incentivize farmers to transition to organic by relieving certain costs
- Full funding for the Organic Data Initiative, USDA’s organic collection program that provides market and production information for the industry
"This bill contains the largest commitment of resources ever to ensure organic integrity remains strong,” said Melissa Hughes, chief mission officer and general counsel, Organic Valley. “It includes better policy and funding for organic fraud prevention, especially in the international trade arena, which was really needed. Modernizing the organic regulations and increasing funding help the National Organic Program be in a position to better weed out fraud.”