Spending Bill Averts Shutdown and Boosts Funding for Organic
Congress has now passed and the President has signed spending legislation to fund nine federal departments, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), for Fiscal Year 2019. This legislation averts another partial government shutdown after the longest government shutdown in history ended on January 25 of this year.
This bill represents good news for organic. It boosts funding for the National Organic Program (NOP) at the USDA from $12 million to $14 million annually. The NOP is responsible for overseeing the growing organic industry, which stands at nearly $50 billion in sales annually in the U.S. There are more than 41,000 organic farms and operations in 120 countries. The NOP is charged with ensuring that the USDA organic standards are enforced in a uniform way around the globe and investigating complaints of fraud. The increase in funding recognizes the need to enhance enforcement procedures to safeguard the integrity of the organic label.
Avoiding another government shutdown also ensures that the NOP has the ability to implement the 2018 Farm Bill and perform critical enforcement activities, including investigations of suspected violations and suspensions of certifiers or operators. The 2018 Farm Bill includes enhanced resources and authorities for the NOP to crack down on fraud.
In another win for organic, the new spending legislation boosts funding for organic and sustainable agriculture research to help tackle on-farm challenges and help farms become more productive, efficient, and profitable. Organic and sustainable ag research leads to the development of new agricultural practices that can be used by conventional and organic farmers alike.
NOC would like to thank the House and Senate appropriations committees for their work to advance this legislation and for provisions that strengthen the integrity of the USDA organic program.
“NOC has been fighting for enhanced resources to tackle fraud and also increases in organic research to help more farmers transition to organic production in response to increases in demand each year in the marketplace,” said Abby Youngblood, Executive Director of the National Organic Coalition. “We are thrilled by the gains achieved through this spending legislation and relieved that the NOP will remain open for business after a five-week long shutdown earlier this year that brought NOP enforcement activities to a halt.”
About the National Organic Coalition:
The National Organic Coalition (NOC) is a national alliance of organizations working to provide a "Washington voice" for farmers, ranchers, conservationists, consumers and industry members involved in organic agriculture. NOC seeks to advance organic food and agriculture and ensure a united voice for organic integrity, which means strong, enforceable, and continuously improved standards to maximize the multiple health, environmental, and economic benefits that organic agriculture provides. The coalition works to assure that policies are fair, equitable, and encourage diversity of participation and access.