Years of advocacy for organic priorities grow recognition for the sector
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate’s passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014 on Feb. 4 clears the way for the bill to proceed to President Obama for final sign-off into law. The legislation, adopted by the House of Representatives on Jan. 29, includes numerous priorities the Organic Trade Association (OTA) has been seeking for more than two years.
“We are pleased that the organic industry received strong support in the Farm Bill that cleared the Senate today. More and more, consumers and farmers alike are choosing organic. Giving them that choice is important,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director of the Organic Trade Association (OTA).
She added, “OTA especially wants to recognize the Senate Agriculture Committee leadership who made this positive vote possible — Chairman Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-MS), and organic champions Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The Senate has demonstrated strong support for diversity in agriculture — recognizing that organic production plays a vital role in offering production options to U.S. farmers, food choices for American families, and strengthening our country’s economy.”
The provisions in the bill passed in the Senate include allowing organic farmers, distributors, and marketers access to the same agriculture research and promotion programs available to conventional farmers by authorizing USDA to consider an application from the organic sector for its own check-off program, as well as clarifying that the current exemption from conventional check-off programs applies to all certified organic operations. In addition, it provides increased funding for the National Organic Program to enforce organic standards, improve technology, and negotiate international trade agreements, as well as funding for organic research, data collection, and certification cost share.
Batcha added, “The Farm Bill that has now gained approval in both houses of Congress demonstrates that the consumer-driven, farmer-powered organic sector — the fourth-largest food and feed commodity — is an important part of the U.S. agricultural community. It is a victory for organic farmers, businesses and consumers. We now look forward to quick action by President Obama to sign this legislation into law.”