February 2024 Policy Update

February 2024

By Lily Hawkins, Policy Director

Agriculture Appropriations Deadline Postponed Again

Last fall, Congress passed a resolution to extend a short-term government funding patch through the new year, and to extend the Farm Bill until September of 2024. But last month, lawmakers were again unable to reach agreement on the annual appropriations process and passed another extension for funding bills. The new deadline for the agriculture bill is March 1—just days before OFA’s annual Farmer Fly-in to D.C. It’s too soon to say if they will be able to make a deal by then.

Either way, OFA will be advocating for increased funding for organic programs in the Fiscal Year 2025 funding process which kicks off in March. We are currently working with allies like NOC and OTA to coordinate our requests.  

House Still Aims for Spring Farm Bill

Congress’s extension of the 2018 Farm Bill until September of 2024 still stands. House Agriculture Chair G.T. Thompson has continued to indicate that he aims to pass a farm bill in the springtime, citing March as the first window when this could be possible, but with the delays in the appropriations process that will be more challenging than ever.

This week House Democrats met to plan a push back against Republican proposals to cut nutrition spending and use Inflation Reduction Act funds to top up some programs that Democrats would like to see funded separately.

The delay in writing a new bill means that marker bills are still being introduced and there is still opportunity for farmers to advocate for their needs. Bookmark our Farm Bill Marker Bill Tracker to stay up to date.

Organic Market 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.

OMDG offers both 24-month Simplified Equipment-Only grants with funding between $10,000 and $100,000 and 3-year Market Development and Processing Capacity Expansion grants with funding ranging between $100,000 and $3,000,000.

Congratulations to Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, and other groups that received funding. You can read the full list of grantees here.

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).

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 – 5:00 pm Eastern
  • Day 2: Thursday, April 25 from 11 am – 5:00 pm Eastern

Public Meeting

  • Day 1: Monday, April 29 from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm Central
  • Day 2: Tuesday, April 30 from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm Central
  • Day 3: Wednesday, May 1 from 9:00 am – 6:00 pm Central

The full meeting materials and the link to register to provide oral comment should be posted in early March. Be sure to sign up promptly as the number of speakers is limited. If you are interested in participating you can reach out to OFA Policy Director Lily Hawkins at lily@organicfarmersassociation.org or OFA Farmer Services Director Julia Barton at julia@organicfarmersassociation.org.