July 2024

By Lily Hawkins, Policy Director

New and Upcoming Marker Bills

The past few months have shown encouraging progress towards a new Farm Bill with either proposals or full bill text released in both the House and Senate Ag committees. However, there is still a long way to go to pass a final bill by the September 30 deadline. The House Agriculture Farm Bill must still pass on the House  Floor—sure to be  difficult due to the inclusion of Democrat’s red line components. With the Senate Republican response to the Majority Senate Farm Bill Framework closely resembling the House bill, the Senate Agriculture Committee will have to pass a consolidated Senate version. Once both chambers have passed their own version of the bill, leaders from the House and Senate will work to combine the two bills into one bill, which can then be voted on by the full Congress.

It is possible that this process will be completed before the deadline at the end of September. However, the closer we creep to the 2024 election process the greater the likelihood that the Farm Bill may be extended again until 2025.  There are lots of unknowns, and the future path of the bill rides on election outcomes and how a possible extension might be drafted.

Meanwhile, new marker bills continue to be introduced with the hope that the policies in them will be included in the final Farm Bill. 

OFA is supporting several of these:

The Organic Imports Verification Act (not yet introduced) would promote organic integrity and a level playing field for domestic organic producers by requiring USDA to test high-risk bulk imports of organic feedstuffs for residues of substances that are prohibited in organic production.

The Save our Small Farms Act includes improvements to the Non-Insured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP), as well as the full text of the Whole Farm Revenue Program Protection Act and the Withstanding Extreme Agricultural Threats by Harvesting Economic Resilience Act.

The Capital for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers Act directs the Farm Service Agency (FSA) to develop a multi-year operating loan pilot for beginning farmers to finance initial assets and the development of production and management systems. These expenditures can include intangible business infrastructure for crop records, payroll, and regulatory compliance, investments to increase soil fertility, and more.

To read more about these and the other marker bills OFA supports, check out our Farm Bill Marker Bill Tracker

House Subcommittee Approves Draft Ag/FDA Spending Bill

In June, the House Appropriations Agriculture-FDA Subcommittee approved a draft version of its fiscal 2025 Agriculture-FDA spending bill on a party-line vote.

The bill would provide $25.9 billion in funding across USDA and FDA, with approximately $22 billion going to USDA, representing a more than 1 percent cut from current funding levels.

Report language for the bill, which will detail how specific programs will be funded, has yet to be released.  We do know that House Republican leaders are not pursuing the abortion pill rider that would restrict access to abortion pills in the Ag-FDA spending bill. This represents a major concession to swing-district Republicans facing competitive elections this fall, and could make it easier for Republicans to pass the bill on the floor this summer.

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Organic Farmers Association members support a strong voice for organic farmers in Washington, D.C.

The Organic Farmers Association is the ONLY national organization where solely independent certified organic farms determine its policies and work agenda. OFA was founded on the belief that the voice of farmers like you should carry the most weight in agricultural policy decisions.

In recent years, OFA has made a difference by putting significant pressure on the USDA to finalize the Origin of Livestock Rule to help organic dairies and finalize the Strengthening Organic Enforcement Rule to stop organic fraud and increase enforcement. We testified and advocated to allow paper pots for small-scale vegetable growers, introduced the ODAIRY Act of 2023, and advocated for stronger animal welfare standards for organic livestock and poultry production (OLPS Rule).

We have proved that farmer voices are stronger when we work together. Join us in this movement by becoming a member today! 


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