2014 Farm Bill is within sight

Capitol HillI am pleased to report we are one step closer to having a Farm Bill after years of Congressional delay. Earlier this week, the Farm Bill Conference Committee released the Agricultural Act of 2014 Conference Report, which included compromise language all conferees could agree upon.  Monday, the members sent this  compromise Farm Bill to the House and Senate for final passage.  The House passed the farm bill, the Agricultural Act of 2014, with a vote of 251 to 166 early Wednesday morning! The Senate is expected to vote on the bill this week. If the Senate passes it the President has indicated he will sign it. This bill recognizes the growing importance of the organic sector to U.S. agriculture and authorizes monies and mandates policy changes that will allow the sector to continue to thrive and grow.

The Farm Bill Conference Committee passed a strong bill paving the way for passage of a comprehensive 2014 Farm Bill. In particular, it includes a number of priorities that OTA has been working hard to advance over the past two years. It renews funding for a number of important programs that were left stranded by last year’s Farm Bill extension. This bill renews critical investments in important programs for beginning farmers, local food systems, organic agriculture and healthy food access. The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP), which has been without funding for more than a year, will receive $11.5 million in mandatory annual funding. The program reimburses farmers for up to 75 percent of their certification fees. Here are some other highlights from the bill:

*   $20 million per year for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)

*   $5 million for the Organic Data Initiative (ODI)

*   $15 million per year for the National Organic Program (NOP)

*   $5 million for necessary technology upgrades at NOP

*   Grants strong enforcement tools to NOP, along with appropriate due process protections for organic certificate-holders

*   Requires that organic price elections for the purpose of crop insurance be completed by 2015

*   Expands the exemption for organic operations from conventional check-off programs

*   Authorizes the United States Department of Agriculture to consider an application for a check-off program from the organic sector should the sector choose to pursue such an application

Thanks is due to the OTA and many other groups for their enduring commitment to the process and to all of YOU who contacted your Congressional leaders over the past few years. It has been a slow development fraught with political escapades, but this passage proves that your voice can make a difference. Congress was hired to pass legislation for the good of both rural and urban communities. We all have a responsibility to make sure they do it and get it right. Let’s use this progress to grow the organic sector so that we are an even greater share of agriculture and food in the years to come.

9 thoughts on “2014 Farm Bill is within sight

  1. Thanks for the well written report on the progress. This makes me happy to be on the right side. I am an independent brand identity & packaging designer who’s worked with major food brands such as Kraft, Kellogg’s, Walmart, Tetrapak, Kroger, Sunkist, Keebler, Smuckers, Anheuser Busch, Nutri-Grain, Organic Valley & Kashi. I know too much to continue to help non-organic food makers. My goal now is to work exclusively with organic food brand makers. Passing of this bill would be promising for the cause. I am here to help so please let me know how I can be of service.

    • Excellent! I will let you know if there is an opportunity should the industry vote on a research and promotions program. Thank you for reading and please pass along to others.

      Melody L Meyer
      VP Policy and Industry Relations UNFI
      phone 401.528.8634 ext 62225
      Fax 831/462-5718
      SKYPE melody.meyer
      Visit my Blog at http://www.organicmattersblog.com

  2. Pingback: US Farm Bill – What’s next for organic? | Organic Matters

  3. , Bruckner & E. This year Paul will start some potatoes in mid-March and another batch in mid-April to stagger the harvest dates.
    The Awareness. So, who do we count on. It’s about keeping the
    food clean and safe.

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