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New Farm Bill signed into law, advances organic

Organic Trade Association urges speedy implementation

Maggie McNeil
Washington , DC
December 20, 2018
) — 

President Donald Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, officially titled the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, into law today after passage earlier this month by Congress. The new law advances the priorities of the organic sector.

“We applaud the quick signing of this historic legislation for organic,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association. “Now it is up to USDA to ensure that the gains that organic stakeholders fought so hard for in the Farm Bill are put into action. Our growing sector needs the additional funding that this Farm Bill provides for research, and the stronger oversight and enforcement provided to prevent organic fraud. We look forward to working with the department to help get these important provisions implemented.”

The Organic Trade Association praised the Farm Bill for making significant steps to move organic agriculture forward. It called the organic priorities contained in the legislation a “major policy win” by organic champions, who included association members and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.

The trade group cited the permanent funding for the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) program provided by the legislation, and the inclusion of important steps to modernize and speed up federal efforts to prevent organic fraud, to create a transparent marketplace, and to ensure that every stakeholder in the organic chain is playing by the rules.

The new law also provides funding for the organic certification cost-share program that helps small and beginning farmers to transition to organic by relieving some of the costs with annual organic certification fees. It provides full funding for the Organic Data Initiative, USDA’s organic data collection program that provides market and production information for the organic industry.

“Organic stakeholders worked tirelessly to get these provisions in the legislation because organic farmers and businesses need them to continue to move forward. We are now eager to work with USDA to bring these provisions to life and into the field” said Batcha.

Organic farmers praise advances in Farm Bill

Doug Crabtree, Vilicus Farms, Havre, Montana:

"Organic farmers should be very pleased by provisions in this Farm Bill.  The substantial increase in funds for organic research will enable improvements in farming practices to make our farms more productive and sustainable.  Investments in oversight will level the playing field for U.S. producers and stem the tide of illegitimate imports.  Increases in funding for conservation on organic farms will help us continue to lead practicing an agriculture that enhances natural resources.”

Tim & Robyn Raile, Raile Farms, St. Francis, Kansas:

“This Farm Bill is not only a big win for the organic industry as a whole but also a big win for transitioning farms creating a clear path & support forward. Thank you, Sen. Roberts, (KS) for being a longtime champion of agriculture and your willingness to listen and your acknowledgment of organic’s important role in agriculture. Thanks also for Rep. Roger Marshall’s (KS) role in the Farm Bill conference committee and recognizing organic farming as a viable option in Kansas.”  

Steve Pierson, organic dairy farmer and Organic Valley board member, St. Paul, Oregon:

“The needs of organic farmers and businesses are often times unique, so I’m encouraged that this new Farm Bill makes progress specific to organic. The new bill supports organic research, which can help American farmers be more productive in the way we farm. It is pretty hard for one individual farmer like me to do research trials on a certain pest or production technique but being able to have resources that enable research projects and disseminate that knowledge to farmers, well that makes good sense. It also makes good sense that we update the regulations on the global oversight of organic in this farm bill. We need USDA to have the wherewithal to go after organic fraud wherever it comes from. That reinforces the integrity of organic for farmers and consumers.”

The Organic Trade Association (OTA) is the membership-based business association for organic agriculture and products in North America. OTA is the leading voice for the organic trade in the United States, representing over 9,500 organic businesses across 50 states. Its members include growers, shippers, processors, certifiers, farmers' associations, distributors, importers, exporters, consultants, retailers and others. OTA’s Board of Directors is democratically elected by its members. OTA's mission is to promote and protect ORGANIC with a unifying voice that serves and engages its diverse members from farm to marketplace.