November 2023 Policy Update

November 2023

By Lily Hawkins, Policy Director

Win for Organic!

For years, Organic Farmers Association and others in the organic community have advocated for more clear and stringent standards for organic livestock and poultry production, sending over 3000 messages to USDA and Congress advocating for finalization of a strong rule. This October, the new Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) Rule was filed in the Federal Register! OFA applauds the release of this long-awaited rule, which we have advocated for before Congress and the USDA for years

OLPS clarifies the production standards of avian and ruminant livestock to support consistent enforcement across producers and re-establish a strong organic label that assures consumers that USDA-certified organic livestock products meet a robust and uniform standard valuing both environmental and animal welfare.

Farm Bill Extension possible this week

On September 30, the 2018 Farm Bill and the 2023 federal spending bills expired. Congress narrowly averted a government shutdown to pass a last minute government funding patch to keep the federal government open until November 17. This week they are working to pass another Continuing Resolution to allow current funding levels to continue through the holidays while they negotiate funding for fiscal year 2024.

Congress hopes to include a provision to extend the current Farm Bill in that resolution. This weekend they reached an agreement to extend funding levels for the last year of 2018 Farm Bill for another year. Senate Agriculture Committee staff has indicated that this will include funding for Organic Certification Cost Share. This is great news, but remains to be seen if new House Speaker Johnson has the votes to pass the Continuing Resolution the farm bill extension is tied to. 

OFA Endorses Newly Introduced Marker Bills

OFA is proud to endorse several recently introduced marker bills intended for inclusion in the upcoming Farm Bill. For a full list of bills we’re supporting and information on how to contact your lawmakers and ask for their support, visit our Farm Bill Tracker.

The Organic Dairy Assistance, Investment, and Reporting Yields Act

The Organic Dairy Assistance, Investment, and Reporting Yields Act (O DAIRY Act) was recently introduced by Senator Welch (D-VT) and is cosponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ).  It aims to provide long-needed support for organic dairy producers. The O DAIRY Act will provide improved data collection, support to help cover dramatically increased input costs, and key investments in infrastructure. 

For more information on the bill, please read our factsheet or the full text of the O DAIRY Act here.   

Organic Market Development Act

Last month, U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Angus King (I-ME) and Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME-01) and Annie Kuster (D-NH-02) introduced the Organic Market Development Act to codify and increase support for the USDA Organic Market Development Grant Program. The act aims to build and expand organic markets and address the need for additional market paths for organic farmers and producers through simplified grants for equipment and larger grants aimed at market development and processing capacity expansion.

You can view a one-page summary of the bill from Senator Baldwin’s office here, and full text of the legislation here.

Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act

The Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act (CIAO) 2023 H.R. 5973 was introduced on October 17, 2023, by Representatives. Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Salud Carbajal (D-CA), David Valadao (R-CA) Chellie Pingree (D-ME). The bill proposes a two-step transparent and predictable process to prioritize and carry out updates to the organic standards.

OFA worked in coalition with the Organic Trade Association, the National Organic Coalition, the Specialty Crop Farm Bill Alliance and the Organic Produce Alliance to advocate for the inclusion of this bill in the next Farm Bill.

Click here to read the full text of the bill.

If you haven’t already, please use our Take Action tool to tell your elected officials you want their support for organic priorities in the farm bill. There’s still time for them to give their support and hearing from their constituents is what moves the needle!