March 2023 Policy Update

March 2023

By Lily Hawkins, Policy Director

Organic Farmers Visit Washington D.C.

Last week, members of OFA’s Policy Committee and Governance Committee traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate for our Farm Bill priorities. Over the course of the week farmers visited the offices of nearly 50 members of Congress to advocate for policies that will strengthen the National Organic Program and support organic farmers, including the following issues:

  • Organic Integrity
  • Assistance for Organic Dairy Farmers
  • Organic Research
  • Making USDA Programs work for Organic Farmers
  • Climate & Conservation
  • Increasing Organic Infrastructure
  • Working with Allies to Build a Better Food System

OFA members also joined allies to participate in the Rally for Resilience and march to the Capitol and conducted meetings at USDA. In a meeting with National Organic Program (NOP) staff they advocated the need for a faster timeline for rulemaking, discussed the rollout of the recently finalized Strengthening Organic Enforcement Rule, and reiterated the importance of limiting organic certification to soil-based farms, not those that rely on hydroponics or container systems. At the Farm Service Agency (FSA), farmers spoke on the need for staff at state FSA offices to be educated on organics, the importance of fully funding organic certification cost-share, and asked questions about the recently announced Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program. 

Both the House and Senate Agriculture Committees are accepting public comment on Farm Bill priorities. You can use the links below to make your voice heard. Use OFA’s Farm Bill priorities for talking points and specific programs, and be sure to include information about why these policies will help YOUR farm.

USDA Announces Funding to Increase Independent Meat Processing Capacity

Last month, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $59 million in investments to support the Biden-Harris Administration’s Action Plan for a Fairer, More Competitive, and More Resilient Meat and Poultry Supply Chain. The grants will be provided to five independent processors as part of the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program (MPPEP). Recipients include a facility in Virginia that will use the funds to expand its organic chicken processing capacity. 

This round of grants was preceded by 2 previous rounds of grants announced in November of last year, and this January. Read more about these USDA programs here.

Participate in the National Organic Standards Board’s Spring Meeting

The NOSB meets twice a year to work on recommendations to the USDA about organic standards and the National List of materials that are allowed or prohibited in organic production. The in-person portion of this year’s Spring NOSB will take place in Atlanta, Georgia. 

  • Public Comment Webinar Day 1: Tuesday, April 18 from Noon – 5:00 pm Eastern
  • Public Comment Webinar Day 2: Thursday, April 20 from Noon – 5:00 pm Eastern
  • NOSB Public Meeting Day 1: Tuesday, April 25 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Eastern
  • NOSB Public Meeting Day 2: Wednesday, April 26 from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm Eastern 
  • NOSB Public Meeting Day 3: Thursday, April 27 from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm Eastern

You can watch the meeting online, and the public comment portions of the meeting will be virtual. Meeting information and the registration form to sign up for public comment are here (registration form is at bottom of page.) The deadline to submit written comments and requests to provide oral comments is April 5, 2023.