Organic Agriculture Wins Big in 2018 Farm Bill

(December 12, 2018) Santa Cruz, CA — This week Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill with landmark support for organic agriculture. This farm bill establishes first-ever baseline mandatory funding for organic agricultural research, strengthens oversight of the global organic supply chain, funds the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, and provides funding for important organic data collection. 
 
CCOF and its members thank the 2018 Farm Bill conference committee and California’s congressional delegation for showing strong bipartisan support for organic agriculture.
 
“CCOF members showed up in a big way to build support for organic priorities in this farm bill,” said Kelly Damewood, director of policy and government affairs and incoming CEO of CCOF. “They met face-to-face with their elected representatives in their home districts and in Washington D.C. Our members wrote letters, made calls, and let it be known that organic producers contribute to the economic, environmental, and social well-being of California and the nation.”  
 
“We are fortunate to have strong organic champions like California Congressman Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20) who know how to work across the aisle to find bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing our agricultural communities,” Damewood added.  
 
Congressman Panetta was an original cosponsor of the Organic Agriculture Research Act of 2017. The bill was included in the 2018 Farm Bill and increases funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) until it reaches $50 million in the year 2023, providing the first baseline mandatory funding for an organic-focused program. OREI funds research exclusively in certified organic production systems. In addition, OREI creates jobs and training opportunities for students who study organic agriculture. Baseline funding will provide stable funding to researchers, allow for more organic research to occur around the nation, and develop important tools needed for organic farmers and ranchers.
 
“OREI funds research that develops more tools and resources available for organic farmers and ranchers,” said CCOF member Darrell Wood of Leavitt Lake Ranches and Panorama Meats. “The increased investment in organic research in the farm bill is a win for organic farmers and ranchers, researchers, rural communities, and consumers.”
 
The bill also increases funding to the National Organic Program (NOP) and provides resources to modernize NOP’s international trade tracking and data collection systems. These additional resources will allow the program to keep pace with the growth of the organic sector and increase oversight of the global organic supply chain. 
 
“As pioneers in organic rice farming, we are delighted that our elected representatives recognized the important and growing role organic plays in a healthy agriculture sector,” said CCOF member Tim Schultz of Lundberg Family Farms. 
 
Additionally, the farm bill funds the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, the only program that provides relief to organic producers by reimbursing 75 percent of their certification expenses. Cost share is especially important for small and beginning organic farmers. The program is also critical for producers in California who—unlike their counterparts in other states—also pay state-level organic fees, which are eligible for cost share reimbursement.
 
The bill also funds the Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives (ODI). ODI collects information to set organic crop prices, track production trends, and increase exports. ODI is the only source of publicly available organic crop data and is critical for a stable organic market. 
 
The inclusion of the organic sector’s top four priorities is a major win for the $50 billion per year organic sector. Organic also made gains in conservation, trade programs, and crop insurance. 
 
About CCOF
CCOF advances organic agriculture for a healthy world. We advocate on behalf of our members for organic policies, support the growth of organic through education and grants, and provide organic certification that is personal and accessible.
 
CCOF is a nonprofit organization governed by the people who grow and make our food. Founded in California more than 40 years ago, today our roots span the breadth of North America and our presence is internationally recognized. We are supported by an organic family of farmers, ranchers, processors, retailers, consumers, and policymakers. Together, we work to realize a future where organic is the norm.
 
For more information about CCOF, visit www.ccof.org.
 
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Author contact information: 

CCOF
2155 Delaware Ave., Suite 150
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
pnell@ccof.org

Author: 
Peter Nell, CCOF Policy Specialist