USA: Draft for investment in organic research and education
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Over the last decade federal funding for organic agriculture research has remained roughly level, and not kept pace with the growth and opportunity that the organic sector has demonstrated. The recent draft of the farm bill has given more support to organic research.
OFRF (Organic Farming Research Foundation) has been working hard to advocate for other key programs that support the needs of organic agriculture. Begining of June the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill released a draft that includes a much needed increased investment in organic research and education. The Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), which was funded at $20 million annually in the last Farm Bill, has been increased to $40 million annually for the next two years and ramps up to $50 million annually by 2022. „We applaud the Senate Agriculture Committee for moving this historic investment in organic research forward”, says Brise Tencer, Executive Director of OFRF
The Senate draft included a wide array of provisions for the organic sector, informs OFRF. This includes robust enforcement and trade oversight in the Farm Bill draft, along with $11.5 million in annual funding for the organic certification cost share programs, $5 million for the organic data initiative, increased authorizations for the National Organic Program (NOP), and makes only a minor change to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), maintaining its integrity.
The draft is just the beginning
It will be a long road from this initial text of the bill to passage of the Farm Bill: it will pass to the Senate for discussion and a vote as well as the House of Representatives. „We are hopeful that the Farm Bill can pass the Congress“, stated OFRF.
The report, “Taking Stock: Analyzing and Reporting Organic Research Investments, 2002-2014,” provides an in-depth assessment of its progress and recommendations for the future.