Organic Voices on the Hill


As the Farm Bill debate continues, OFRF has been working to ensure that the voices of organic farmers, and those that support organic farming, are being heard by members of Congress. With several key programs that support organic farming without permanent funding, it is vital that members of Congress hear from constituents about the importance of supporting organic agriculture in the upcoming Farm Bill.

By bringing their voices and experiences to members of Congress, OFRF farmer board members help ensure organic farmers have input on the shape of the next Farm Bill. Earlier this month, OFRF policy staff along with board member and organic farmer Doug Crabtree, took part in a fly-in event coordinated by the Organic Trade Association’s Farmers Advisory Council.  Doug, who also is the co-chairman of the OTA Advisory Council, spoke directly with every member of Congress representing the state of Montana and highlighted the need for more funding for organic agriculture.

In addition to working directly with organic farmers, OFRF recently led a group of Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders (SAFSF) around Washington, D.C. to discuss organic agriculture and research in the Farm Bill.  SAFSF is an association that supports networking, educational, and collaboration opportunities for the philanthropic community working to support vibrant, healthy, and just food and farm systems. The recent SAFSF Policy Conference brought together diverse organizations from coast to coast, to raise their voices and advocate for their values through civic engagement. While these funders are activating their networks and resources to cultivate relationships and pursue equitable and sustainable outcomes in the food system, for the first time they engaged in proactive policy discussions by sharing stories and information from frontline communities that are harnessing their collective power and working to generate equitable outcomes. 

As a member of SAFSF, OFRF led meetings and discussions along with over 40 philanthropic organizations with the House and Senate Agriculture Committee staff, as well as key Congressional offices. Very careful to avoid any lobbying, the philanthropic organizations that took part in the SAFSF hill visits spoke about the impacts that nutrition programs, sustainable agriculture initiatives, and organic agriculture and research has in communities around the country and around the world.

OFRF also took several SAFSF members to speak with the offices of Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Chuck Schumer, and Senator Nancy Pelosi. While organic agriculture and scientific research is a non-partisan issue, and the Organic Agriculture Research Act enjoys broad support from both sides of the political aisle, the voices of philanthropic organizations and the communities they support provides a unique prospective on the importance of supporting organic agriculture and research. By working with OFRF to bring their voices to D.C., SAFSF and the organizations from around the country provided an important perspective on sustainable agriculture and food system programs that isn’t often heard on Capitol Hill.

Photo: Brise Tencer, OFRF Executive Director; Tom Harkin, former Senator for Iowa, Michael Stein, OFRF Policy Associate