April 2024

By Lily Hawkins, Policy Director

More Organic Development Grants Awarded

The Organic Market Development Grant (OMDG) program supports the development of new and expanded organic markets to help increase the consumption of domestic organic agricultural commodities. The program focuses on building and expanding capacity for certified organic production, aggregation, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, distribution, and development of consumer markets.

Last month, USDA announced a second round of funding through the program that will provide $40.5 million for 60 grant projects. Congratulations to those who received funding! You can read about all the funded projects on the USDA’s site.

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Representative Ann Kuster (D-NH-2) are working to make this grant program permanent through the Organic Market Development Act (S. 2936/H.R. 5763).

New Resources for Organic Advocates

Organic Is Regenerative Toolkit

The Organic Farming Research Foundation, in collaboration with others in the organic community, have introduced a comprehensive new messaging toolkit. This toolkit will help organic advocates communicate that organic farming is the original climate-smart agriculture—a verifiable legal standard that keeps producers accountable for their sustainable practices.

This comprehensive toolkit provides resources from one-page fliers to social media graphics and a presentation slide deck to help you advocate for organic agriculture as regenerative! 

Find the toolkit at: www.OFRF.org/organic-is-regenerative 

New Online Retail Toolkit for Consumers

Consumers do not always understand what the organic label means. To help educate the public, USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s National Organic Program (NOP) has published a toolkit with resources explaining the unique value of the organic label. The toolkit was designed for retailers to use in stores and online to educate consumers on what the organic label means and how USDA protects the label. 

The toolkit includes a variety of documents that describe the four pillars of the organic standards: 1) protected by law; 2) inspected by experts; 3) traced from farm to store; and 4) shaped by public input. Many graphics also include a QR code that links to the USDA Understanding the Organic Basics web page where consumers can learn more about the NOP and the organic label.  

The kit was designed with retailers in mind and could be helpful to share with businesses you work with. 

Access the Toolkit Here

Proposed Changes to Mushroom and Pet Food Standards

The USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has published a proposed rule in the Federal Register to amend the USDA organic regulations. The rule proposes specific standards for organic mushroom production and organic pet food handling, aiming to create more consistent standards for these markets. OFA is working with allies to provide comments that will urge USDA to provide a rule that upholds the principles of organic agriculture and reflects the priorities of our farmer-members.

For organic mushrooms, this proposed rule aims to:  

  • Clarify which existing crop production standards apply to organic mushroom production 
  • Create a mushroom-specific standard for organic compost production 
  • Require operations producing organic mushrooms to:
    • Use organic materials for the uncomposted portions of production substrate when commercially available 
    • Use organic spawn media when commercially available
    • Use organic mushroom spawn when commercially available 

For organic pet food, the rule would: 

  • Clarify how existing organic labeling requirements should be applied to organic pet food 
  • Allow organic meat and slaughter by-products in organic pet food 
  • Describe what ingredients can be used in organic pet food
  • Add synthetic taurine (an amino acid) to the National List and allow its use in organic pet food to meet some pets’ nutritional needs 

The public comment period closes on May 10, 2024. If you would like support in submitting comments, or just want to let us know what you think about the proposed rule, contact OFA Policy Director Lily Hawkins or OFA Farmer Services Director Julia Barton.

Read and comment on the proposed rule here!

Spring NOSB Meeting in Milwaukee

The spring NOSB meeting will be held in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a public comment webinar the week prior. 

NOSB Spring 2024 Meeting dates:

Public Comment Webinars

  • Day 1: Tuesday, April 23 from 11 am – 5 pm Eastern
  • Day 2: Thursday, April 25 from 11 am – 5 pm Eastern

Public Meeting

  • Day 1: Monday, April 29 from 9 am – 6 pm Central
  • Day 2: Tuesday, April 30 from 9 am – 6 pm Central
  • Day 3: Wednesday, May 1 from 9 am – 6 pm Central

The full meeting materials are posted online. The deadline to sign up for comment has passed. If you are signed up to participate in the public comment webinar and would like support OFA, please contact Policy Director Lily Hawkins at or Farmer Services Director Julia Barton. You can read OFA’s full written comments here.

Pre-NOSB Meeting

If you will be in Milwaukee for the NOSB Meeting, please consider joining our friends at the National Organic Coalition for a Pre-NOSB Meeting! This is a free, public, and in-person event! The Pre-NOSB meeting will take place from 9 am to 5 pm CT at the Historic Pabst Brewery in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The Pre-NOSB Meeting takes place in advance of the National Organic Standards Board meeting each spring and fall. This meeting provides a space for information-sharing and dialogue and is open to all organic community members. The meeting will include:

  • A panel of local organic farmers discussing regional challenges and opportunities
  • A DC update on organic policy issues, including the Farm Bill and new organic regulations
  • A Q&A with Jenny Tucker, Deputy Administrator for the National Organic Program
  • Discussions about topics under consideration by the National Organic Standards Board

Register Here!