January 2024 Policy Update

January 2024

By Lily Hawkins, Policy Director

Agriculture Appropriations Deadline Looms

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.

With the holidays behind them lawmakers are yet again working to pass 2024 funding bills. The large package of bills has been divided into two tranches with different deadlines. Agriculture spending is in the earlier group with a deadline of January 19th. With the Republican controlled House yet to pass their version of the bill, there is a risk of a partial-government shutdown.

It is possible that Congress could pass a full-year continuing resolution to extend FY 2023 spending bills until Sept. 30th of 2024. However, this approach would trigger spending cuts agreed to in the debt ceiling deal, and the Senate has indicated that they will oppose this move.

House Aims for Spring Farm Bill

Congress has extended the 2018 Farm Bill until September of 2024 and neither chamber of Congress has yet published bill text. House Agriculture Chair G.T. Thompson has indicated that he aims to pass a farm bill in the springtime, citing March as the first window when this could be possible.

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.

Historic Funding for Conservation Practices

Thanks to USDA’s $300 million Organic Transition Initiative, NRCS has a historic amount of funding for producers to adopt conservation practices in fiscal year 2024. While NRCS has set a national application deadline of March 1, deadlines vary by state. Find your state’s ranking date and apply by contacting your local NRCS office here.

OFA is available to help in navigating the application process via our Farmer Helpline at (833) 724-3834, and will circulate more resources in the coming weeks.

Public comment requested on National Organic Program Information Collection Renewal

USDA is requesting public comment on reporting and recordkeeping burdens in the organic certification system. 

USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) has published in the Federal Register a notice announcing its intent to revise and update forms included in the previously approved information collection package. It also requests changes to eliminate the collection of redundant information and to account for paperwork burden estimates related to the USDA Transition to Organic Partnership Program and public use of the NOP Online Complaint Portal.

NOP is seeking public comment on the proposed revisions, including the burdens, costs, and other effects of the information collection required by the USDA organic regulations. Online comments are encouraged. Information on how to submit comments can be found on Regulations.gov and by clicking here. The comment period closes January 22, 2024.

Reminder: Fill Out OFA’s Annual Policy Survey

Each year, the Organic Farmers Association asks ALL CERTIFIED ORGANIC FARMERS and ORGANIC FARM ORGANIZATIONS to share their top policy priorities and policy positions. 

The OFA farmer-elected Policy Committee reviews the results, identifies the top priorities, and drafts policy statements from this broad-based solicitation to submit to OFA members for comment. The Policy Committee uses the member comments to finalize the proposed policies, then OFA Farm Members vote on the final policies. Policies that pass the national vote by 60% AND two-thirds of the regional vote by 60% become official OFA policies. 

Please take the survey to submit policy proposals, then share this survey with certified organic farmers in your network!!