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Organic Research and Promotion Program

As Congress continues drafting the next Farm Bill, organic advocates are fighting to protect gains and key programs achieved in the 2008 Farm Bill. Advocacy efforts include addressing how research and promotion orders impact the organic sector. The Senate and House Ag Committees passed identical amendments on this issue. The amendments do not establish an organic order. The amendments do three things: 1. Remedy an existing, ineffective exemption & relieve organic operations from paying into conventional orders that don’t have a history of working on their behalf. 2. Grant the USDA the authority to consider an application for a promotion order by the organic sector – if it were to decide to do so. 3. Provide organic producers and handlers a choice to select the promotion order that provides the most benefit for them.

As Congress continues drafting the next Farm Bill, organic advocates are fighting to protect gains and key programs achieved in the 2008 Farm Bill. They’re working to protect full funding for the National Organic Program, certification cost-share and organic data collection. Advocacy efforts also address how research and promotion orders impact the organic sector. The Senate and House Ag Committees both passed identical amendments on this issue. The amendments do three things:

  1. Remedy the ineffective 2008 Farm Bill exemption for organic producers and handlers to bring federal laws into better alignment with USDA NOP practice. The change will relieve organic producers and handlers from the burden of paying into conventional orders that do not have a history of working on their behalf.
  2. Grant the USDA the authority to consider an application for a promotion order by the organic sector – if it were to decide to do so – by defining organic as a commodity for purposes of research and promotion orders. While USDA supports regulation and labeling oversight, the USDA Organic seal is a common brand shared by over 17,000 organic operations in 50 states without dedicated marketing, research and development funding.
  3. Provide organic producers and handlers a choice. Should an organic promotion order be approved by USDA in the future, organic operations would be able to select the promotion order that provides the most benefit for them – the relevant conventional order or the organic order.

The amendments do not establish an organic order. It only allows the organic industry the same choice that other sectors of agriculture already have to petition USDA.

To convene a public discussion on a possible organic order, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) has hosted six webinars and 20 town hall meetings over the past 18 months, with 540 individuals participating in locations across the country. Look for OTA's "Options For A Framework" Questionnaire and the opportunity to weigh-in with detailed feedback and preferences on a possible Organic Research and Promotion Program. Additional information about the initiative is being mailed to certified organic operators later this month, and the online questionnaire will be available on the UnitedForMoreOrganic.org website— while you’re there, make sure to sign up for the newsletter to stay engaged in the conversation.

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