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Legislative

OTA’s Government Affairs team develops relationships with Members of Congress and encourages the passage of laws that benefit the organic sector.  Learn more about how you can advocate on behalf of yourself, your business, and the organic sector on the Hill.

Organic Foods Production Act

The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) was passed as part of the 1990 Farm Bill.  It authorized the creation of the National Organic Program (NOP) within USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, which would be based on federal regulations that would define standard organic farming practices, as well as processing and handling standards.  OFPA also called for the establishment of the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) to assist in the development of standards for substances to be used in organic production and to provide recommendations to the Secretary regarding the implementation of the Act.

Learn More About Organic Standards


Farm Bill

The Farm Bill sets our federal agriculture policy and is reauthorized by Congress through the House Agriculture Committee and Senate Agriculture Committee roughly every five years.  It includes titles covering nutrition, commodities, conservation, trade, rural development, research, forestry, energy, horticulture and organic agriculture, livestock, crop insurance, and more.  In addition to updating programs and policies, Congress also determines the funding levels for various programs at USDA by either providing direct mandatory funding or determining authorized funding levels in the Farm Bill.

The current Farm Bill was signed into law in December of 2018, and OTA’s advocacy efforts resulted in huge wins for organic, including permanent baseline funding for organic research, increased funding for the National Organic Program, and new oversight and enforcement measures to preserve the integrity of the global organic supply chain. Learn more about the 2018 Farm Bill.

OTA is currently developing priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill, our full platform will be released in June 2022. In the meantime, you can find a preview of our policy priorities below. 

Preview: OTA 2023 Farm Bill Priorities House Ag Farm Bill Hearing Transcript, March 2022 Batcha Testimony: March 2022 House Ag Farm Bill Hearing


Appropriations

Every year, Congress funds the federal government through appropriations legislation.  Typically, the President releases a proposed budget in the winter, and the House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee pass funding bills in the spring and summer, in advance of the start of the government's fiscal year on October 1. The House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittees also focus on USDA appropriations, including funding for the National Organic Program, organic research, and other priorities.

FY23 Appropriations Priorities FY23 Appropriations Request FY23 Organic Programs: Dear Colleague Sign-On Letter


House Organic Caucus

The House Organic Caucus is a bipartisan group of Representatives that supports organic farmers, ranchers, processors, distributors, retailers, and consumers.  The Caucus informs Members of Congress about organic agriculture policy and opportunities to advance the sector.

House Organic Caucus Members


Climate Change

Organic is taking on climate change! Organic agriculture is based on practices that protect environmental health and improve it.  By prohibiting the use of petroleum-based fertilizers and absorbing carbon dioxide from the air, organic agriculture helps to reduce agriculture's carbon footprint and combat climate change.

LEARN MORE ABOUT HOW ORGANIC MITIGATES CLIMATE CHANGE      

The Organic Center co-authored a groundbreaking study with the National Soil Project at Northeastern University showing that organic soils combat climate change by locking away carbon, which would otherwise be in the atmosphere, in long-term reserves.  The research compared over 1,000 soils to understand how organic compares to average agricultural practices, and the results showed that soils from organic farms sequester 26% more carbon.

Organic & Climate Change Fact Sheet The Organic Center Soil Study OTA Climate Change Comments to US House OTA Climate Change Comments to US Senate OTA Climate-Smart Ag Comments to USDA OTA Climate-Smart Ag and Forestry Partnership Program Comments to USDA OTA Climate Grant 


Continuous Improvement

Consumer trust in organic relies on strong and regularly updated standards that are verified and enforced by the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). It’s been 20 years since the organic regulations went into effect and despite growing consumer demand and industry consensus on nearly two dozen updates, the standards have remained static, with only two updates having been implemented in the last two decades. The Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic (CIAO) Standards Act will restore trust in the public-private partnership between USDA and stakeholders and ensure that government moves at the speed of industry innovation and evolving consumer expectations.

Timespan for USDA-NOP Rulemaking  CIAO Fact Sheet  H.R. 2918 - Bill Text


Access to Healthy Foods

The organic industry is committed to providing healthy and safe food to all Americans. Over the last decade, innovation, growth and research have made organic more accessible than ever, and an emerging choice not only in homes, but also in schools and institutions.

As Congress, considers re-authorization of the Child Nutrition Act there are opportunities to expand access to organic foods within the school feeding programs as well as the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program.

Child Nutrition Fact Sheet


Visit Your Legislators

Whether at home in your district or in Washington, D.C., your Senators and Representatives love to hear from you.  OTA staff is happy to help you set up a meeting with your Senator or Representative, and give you all the resources you need for a successful meeting. Email Megan DeBates, Vice President of Government Affairs, to help you set up a meeting.


Organic Week in Washington, D.C.

From small organic producers to major growers, family-run organic operations to nationwide companies, researchers and policy advocates to distributors and retailers, OTA's diverse membership comes together in the nation’s capital for a week of events to advance organic policy priorities.

The Organic Trade Association’s Advocacy Day takes place in hundreds of offices and meeting rooms across Capitol Hill during DC Organic Week.  Help us share positive messages and educate the nation’s top policymakers on the importance of Organic and the sector’s impact on jobs, growth, and consumer demand.  You will leave with new advocacy tools and personal connections to help you better promote and protect organic in your community, your state, and at the national level.


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General Resources

Organic 101 Benefits of Organic Top 50 Districts by Organic Operation 

U.S. States Organic Fact Sheets 

 


Contact
Megan DeBates
Vice President of Government Affairs
(202) 403-8643

 

 

Legislative