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USDA Announces $185 Million in Funding to Advance Organic at Organic Week 2023

Last week, the Organic Trade Association gathered with organic businesses from across the supply chain, coalition partners, scientists, advocates and policymakers in the nation’s capital for Organic Week 2023. Leaders in organic farming, business and science discussed complex organic issues including plastics in the supply chain, cultivating diversity in the sector, and projects to maximize the industry’s climate benefits. Attendees met with lawmakers on Capitol Hill to discuss organic priorities and the upcoming Farm Bill, celebrated our 2022 Leadership Award winners and received breaking announcements from USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on funding and programs to advance organic. The jampacked week left us inspired, invigorated and ready to fight harder than ever to advance the industry.

In a big win for organic, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced an estimated $185 million in funding for programs to grow the organic market and support organic producers with transition and certification during Organic Week’s policy conference!

The agency pledged $75 million to help improve domestic organic supply chains with pinpointed market development through its Organic Market Development Grant (OMDG) Program and officially invited organic stakeholders to apply for the funding. The grant program will strengthen the supply chain and expand organic processing capacity to create critical new paths to market for climate-smart organic farmers and increase consumer access to organic foods and products. There are two funding levels, including simplified equipment-only grants ranging from $10,000-100,000 as well as larger market development and promotion grants ranging from $100,000-3,000,0000. OTA encourages its members and all organic stakeholders to take advantage of this opportunity offered by USDA and to apply to become part of this program. USDA is accepting applications for the program through July 11, 2023. 

Secretary Vilsack also shared that the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP) was restored to the previous reimbursement level of 75% of certification costs up to $750 per certification scope. An estimated $10 million in funding will be distributed through the program, which is critical for attracting new, young farmers to organic. The application period will remain open until October 31st, 2023, for costs incurred from Oct. 1, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2023. Contact your local USDA Service Center to apply. OMDG and OCCSP are both part of the agency’s historic $300 million Organic Transition Initiative announced in 2022.

The Secretary announced the agency’s Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program (ODMAP) will be accepting applications by the end of the month and expediting payments to producers.  ODMAP was originally announced in January after the efforts of the OTA’s Animale Feedstuff Relief Taskforce worked with Congress and USDA to address a growing crisis in organic dairies.  The program will provide $100 million in support of organic dairies as they face dwindling supply and rising costs of organic feedstuff due to unprecedented shocks to the global trade.  As the program is implemented, OTA and USDA are committed to reviewing the program to ensure the $100 million reaches the organic dairy farmers who need it most.

Organic industry advocates for thriving American farmers and resilient supply chains on Capitol Hill

After a productive and collaborative Policy Conference, Organic Trade Association members flocked to Capitol Hill to advocate for organic policy priorities in the upcoming Farm Bill. Member advocates representing 34 states met with more than 160 Congressional offices to promote policies centered around ensuring organic standards keep pace with marketplace demands and provide supportive research and risk management tools to organic farmers. They also called for conservation and climate-smart programs to acknowledge the contributions of organic farming practices in protecting natural resources, and policies that strengthen the resiliency of the organic supply chain. This successful message for organic resonated with both Democratic and Republican offices. Many offices in the House of Representatives expressed interest in joining the House Organic Caucus and several staff from visited offices requested more information on the Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards as OTA looks toward following up a strong showing on the Hill with the introduction of our signature legislation.