December 13, 2018 – After years of work and months of back and forth negotiations, the 2018 Farm Bill has been signed by the President.
This bipartisan bill makes long-overdue investments in organics and the future of American agriculture. The bill provides historic permanent baseline funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), continues to support the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program, provides increased funding and enforcement authority for the National Organic Program, and supports the vital Organic Market and Production Data Initiative.
The bill also makes important changes to conservation programs that support organic agriculture. The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) organic initiative had a restrictive funding cap that has been raised, and the Conservation Stewardship Program. (CSP) will provide program funds to States for the support of organic production and transition to organics. This bill also encourages cover cropping, resource-conserving crop rotation, and advanced grazing systems, which are important tools for organic farmers and ranchers. Additionally, the bill makes important policy improvements to support organic crop insurance education, promotion of organic products, and allows for States to mediate farm disputes impacting organic production.
We would like to thank our Congressional Organic Champions Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME), and Representatives Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), and Chellie Pingree (D-ME). This bill secures historic support for organic research.
Thanks to the hard work of the Agriculture Committee leaders Senators Pat Roberts (R-KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Representatives Mike Conaway (R-TX), and Collin Peterson (D-MN), and the diligent staff of the Agriculture Committees for their support of the landmark organic provisions in the Farm Bill, and for their hard work to pass a strong bipartisan Farm Bill.
In addition to organic programs, this bill makes investments in other key programs that support beginning farmers and locally produced foods. The bill provides permanent baseline funding for organic research and also makes significant policy improvements to programs that support beginning and socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers, local food access and markets, and works to secure key resources to support research at 1890 Land Grant Universities. The bill also legalizes the growing of industrial hemp and paves the way for federal support of hemp production and research.
While there are many outstanding provisions in the Farm Bill, the bill is far from perfect. The final bill did not include many provisions that were intended to weaken environmental protection, and the bill makes no substantial changes to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) also known as food stamps.
Overall, this bill provides much needed support for America’s organic farmers and ranchers, supports beginning farmers, and helps producers and consumers across the country.