President Signs Farm Bill into Law

Farm Bill Features Wins for Organic Farmers

Today, President Obama signed a farm bill into law that includes funding for critical programs that support the growth of the organic sector. Among the wins for organic was the National Organic Certification Cost Share program, a main focus of CCOF’s policy work last year through visits to Congress members and dozens of emails and calls by CCOF members. 

The National Organic Certification Cost Share program helps farmers and processors afford the expense of organic certification by reimbursing them for up to 75 percent of their certification costs, with a maximum of $750 per scope of operation. In 2013, only $1.425 million in cost share funds were available to farmers in 16 states. The new farm bill reinstates the program to farmers and handlers in all states for a total of $11.5 million per year. An additional $1.5 million is available for organic certification cost share to farmers through the Agriculture Management Assistance (AMA) program. AMA is available in 16 states where participation in the Federal Crop Insurance Program is low: Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

We will update our members as soon as Organic Certification Cost Share funds are available.

This farm bill also includes $20 million per year for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, a competitive grant-making program that funds organic research.

More organic wins in the bill:

  • $5 million for the Organic Data Initiative, which gathers statistical data on organic production
  • $5 million for necessary technology upgrades at the USDA National Organic Program (NOP)
  • Increased enforcement authority for the NOP
  • Expanded exemption for organic operations from conventional check-off programs
  • Authorization for USDA to consider an application for an organic check-off program, should the organic sector choose to pursue a check-off.

Other programs CCOF advocated for that received funding include the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, a new microloan program, farmers’ market promotion, and other key rural development programs. Visit the NSAC website for more details. Federal disaster assistance funding will also be offered, which is good news for growers in draught-stricken regions. (Find drought materials and information on our drought resources page.)

Unfortunately, this farm bill cut billions of dollars from USDA NRCS conservation programs, which many CCOF growers participate in.

We will continue to represent our members by ensuring these programs are implemented in a way that supports organic producers. Stay tuned for more information about these programs as they develop.