Apr 25, 2023
Bill would increase funding for federal organic research programs

A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would increase funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s flagship organic research program and support research projects.

The Strengthening Organic Agricultural Research (SOAR) Act of 2023 was introduced April 20 by Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., alongside Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and Rep. Jimmy Panetta, D-Calif.

“Central Washington farmers are constantly innovating so they can provide their organic products to the world,” Newhouse said in a news release. “To continue to grow and prosper, it’s important they have the necessary resources to remain competitive.”

Pingree said increased funding would reflect the organic industry’s growth and changing needs.

“Research plays a critical role in helping our farmers increase productivity and prevent loss,” she said. “Additional research in organics is urgently needed as producers work to meet the growing demand for organics.”

The bill would reauthorize the existing Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative while increasing funding and expanding grant programs for organic research. It would also require the USDA’s Economic Research Service to give Congress better data on the production and sale of organic crops and authorize additional appropriations for Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives.

“The dynamic and growing organic market, driven by producers in California’s 19th Congressional District, depends on new innovation to meet the growing demand in our country,” Panetta said. “The Strengthening Organic Agriculture Research (SOAR) Act expands federal organic research to empower organic producers with the latest tools, soil health and pest management, and other practices needed to remain competitive and successful.”

The bill was meet with enthusiasm from the Organic Farming Research Foundation.

“We at OFRF are excited to see the investments made into actionable, high-impact research funded by NIFA for organic producers,” Brise Tencer, ORFR executive director, said in the release.The policies in the SOAR Act provide research tools to farmers, but also market signals to early career researchers that organic agriculture research is a valued and important area of study, them to pursue organic agriculture research projects and expertise.”

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