Organic Trade Association releases 2023 Farm Bill platform
OTA puts forth forward-looking and innovative agenda for organic
Washington, D.C., Feb. 08, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Organic Trade Association (OTA) on Wednesday called for a new Farm Bill that recognizes the integral role the $63 billion U.S. organic sector plays in today’s American agriculture. The association, in announcing its platform for the 2023 Farm Bill, outlined policies to support the growth and success of organic agriculture into the next decade and beyond.
OTA prioritized policies that ensure organic standards keep pace with marketplace demands and provide supportive research and risk management tools to organic farmers. It called for conservation and climate-smart programs to reward organic farmers for the contributions of organic practices in protecting natural resources, and encouraged Congress to enact policies that strengthen the resiliency of the organic supply chain.
“Organic is one of the country’s fastest-growing food production and processing categories, but despite the organic sector’s strengths and marketplace success, the industry faces core challenges that Congress must address in the next Farm Bill,” said Tom Chapman, CEO of the trade association. “The benefits of organic go far beyond the farm gate. To sustain organic’s growth and expand its positive impacts, we’ve developed a set of priorities that will build off the progress made in the 2018 Farm Bill.”
Because an equitable and forward-looking Farm Bill cannot be shaped without the voice of farmers, OTA’s Farm Bill priorities are the result of extensive consultations and recommendations by the association’s Farmers Advisory Council (FAC), one of the largest coalitions of organic farmers and organic farming organizations in the United States. The FAC represents over 8,500 growers of all sizes from all regions of the country and producing a wide range of crops, from meat and livestock products to grains, fruits and vegetables. In its preparations for the new Farm Bill, OTA also hosted a series of workshops with nearly 300 certifiers, growers, consumer-facing brands, retailers, and non-profit organizations.
“The Farm Bill has a huge impact on the future of organic agriculture, and we need to capitalize on the important gains that organic achieved in the 2018 Farm Bill,” said FAC co-chair Doug Crabtree, organic farmer from Montana. “While still not funded to the proportion of food spending by consumers, organic research funding did receive a big boost in the last Farm Bill. But crop insurance rules continue to make risk management more challenging for organic farmers. Additionally, support for mentoring and other technical assistance for organic and transitioning farmers would help domestic farmers meet the growing demand for organic food. A healthy organic marketplace cannot be fully realized without critical support for farmers who are the backbone of organic.”
“Our hard work in the 2018 Farm Bill resulted in historic gains in organic oversight and led to the Agriculture Department’s action to advance the Strengthening Organic (SOE) rulemaking, the most significant changes to organic regulations since the creation of the National Organic Program,” said Adam Warthesen, FAC co-chair and Director of Government and Industry Affairs for Organic Valley. “Farm bills fundamentally impact organic farmers and our agriculture system. We need to be present to safeguard and advance the organic policy and funding priorities we have outlined as Congress starts deliberating the next Farm Bill.”
Highlights of the Organic Trade Association’s priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill include:
Updating the Organic Foods Production Act to establish a preplanned, predictable timeline (no later than once every five years) to review and update the organic standards, so they continue to meet consumer expectations in an evolving marketplace;
Strengthening the National Organic Program’s (NOP) enforcement authority against false or misleading organic claims;
Increasing funding for core organic programs authorized in the Farm Bill including the Organic Research and Education Initiative (OREI), Organic Data Initiative (ODI), Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (OCCSP) and the National Organic Program;
Expanding organic market data collection and improving risk management tools for organic farmers;
Prioritizing and increasing funding for conservation practices that build soil health;
Acknowledging certified organic agriculture’s contributions to protecting natural resources in current and future USDA conservation and climate-smart verification programs;
Authorizing and investing in new programs to increase technical assistance for organic and transitioning farmers and to facilitate market development and infrastructure grants to expand domestic organic production and processing capacity as piloted by the USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative.
“If we want to keep organic advancing in the next Farm Bill, we need to make sure that lawmakers hear our voice,” said OTA’s Chapman. “Congress should not only continue to protect the integrity of the USDA Organic label but ensure that organic standards continuously improve over time. Congress should ensure that government-funded organic research continues, that organic farmers are provided fair risk management strategies and crop insurance, and that organic is a part of the climate-change solution. We look forward to working with Congress as this next Farm Bill takes shape.”
The Organic Trade Association is holding a briefing to discuss these policy priorities tomorrow, February 9, at 4 p.m. ET. Members of the media are welcome to join the briefing and a media-exclusive Q&A immediately following. Please register in advance.
About the Organic Trade Association
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 more than 10,000 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.
CONTACT: Maggie McNeil Organic Trade Association (202) 615-7997 firstname.lastname@example.org