From L-R: Abby Youngblood (ED of NOC), Rep. Balint (VT-AL), Dr. Jennifer Taylor (Lola’s Organics), and Gordon Merrick (OFRF)
It has been a busy spring in the policy world this year! With “marker bill season” fully upon us, OFRF is actively working with our coalition and congressional partners to advocate for expanded public support for organic agriculture research. As OFRF’s Policy & Programs Manager, I was down in DC participating in the National Organic Coalition’s fly-in from March 21st to 24th. I met with eight different congressional offices during the week, and the coalition members met with nearly 60 in total! I had the opportunity to voice the importance of organic agriculture research with two Congressional members, Representatives Jimmy Panetta (CA-19) and Becca Balint (VT-AL). The conversation with Rep. Balint happened while we were walking between other meetings, some true sidewalk lobbying! As part of this fly-in, coalition members, including myself, were also able to meet with USDA Undersecretary Jenny Moffitt to speak about strengthening the administrative processes that make up the National Organic Program, and the historic investment in supporting organic producers in the USDA’s Organic Transition Initiative.
Alongside our direct engagement with Congress, we also are actively working to support you in sharing your experiences with these programs and the policy making process! One example is the important work Eric Brennan, PhD engaged in when he presented testimony in a California policy making process, making sure that the policies pursued by the State were grounded in science and reality. You can read about, and listen to, Eric’s testimony here. To further this work, we’ve been offering a workshop series for publicly-funded researchers discussing the unique challenges and opportunities for researchers employed at public universities.
If you want to get involved in advocating for continued and expanded public support for organic agriculture research, please reach out to me, Gordon Merrick, at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are developing toolkits for congressional outreach discussing our priorities as well as marker bills we are supporting as they are introduced. Keep an eye out for those materials in future newsletters and communications from us!
And if you want to learn more about the Farm Bill, here are some additional resources that we use in this work:
- For a good general and brief explainer of what the Farm Bill is, check out NSAC’s Explainer. NSAC also produced a 2023 Platform, which OFRF has signed on to.
- The Congressional Research Service (CRS) offers this Farm Bill Primer publication explaining the Farm Bill process for members and senators.
- The Farm Bill Law Enterprise Library offers detailed legal backgrounds and explanations of each title of the Farm Bill, a total of 12 are generally included!
- We also want to highlight the Native Farm Bill Coalition’s Gaining Ground report, which offers detailed information and recommendations for the Farm Bill from Tribal Nations and communities.