Nov 17, 2023
Budget measure passes, extends Farm Bill
President Joe Biden has signed a continuing resolution to avoid a government shutdown, extending the Farm Bill for a year and funding agriculture programs through the new year.
The U.S. House on Nov. 14 passed the stopgap funding bill brokered by new House Speaker Mike Johnson, the Senate approved it on Nov. 15, and Biden signed it on Nov. 16. Without its passage, federal funding would have expired on Nov. 17.
The bill extends the 2018 Farm Bill through the end of September 2024, a year after it expired. The “laddered” continuing resolution, however, funds the USDA only through Jan. 19, along with the transportation, housing and urban development, and veteran’s affairs departments. Funding for the defense and other departments expire on Feb. 2.
Organic Trade Association responds
According to a statement from the Organic Trade Association, the extension safeguards agricultural programs critical for organic, such as the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) which received baseline funding in the 2018 Farm Bill.
“It maintains the oversight and enforcement activities of the National Organic Program and provides needed certainty to farmers moving into the new calendar year,” according to the statement. “The extension also provides funding for so-called ‘orphan programs’ that are important to organic but lack a permanent funding mechanism.”
These programs include the Organic Production and Market Data Initiative, the Organic Integrity Database and the National Organic Certification Cost-Share.
The Organic Production and Market Data Initiative collects information vital to maintaining stable markets, creating risk management tools, and assisting in negotiating equivalency agreements with foreign governments, and is key to informing organic farmer planning, according to the trade organization. The Organic Integrity Database will provide oversight of imports when the National Organic Program’s historic new Strengthening Organic Enforcement rule comes into effect in March 2024. This oversight is critical to consumer protection and integral to ensuring fair competition for American farmers, according to the association.
Additionally, for organic to continue the growth it has achieved over the last decade, the Organic Certification Cost-Share program is crucial for attracting new, young farmers to organic to help build a diverse and thriving organic agriculture community.
“Through our advocacy efforts and in collaboration with other groups who are concerned about fair competition and rising costs for farmers, we will continue to make permanent funding for the ‘orphan programs’ a high priority for the next version of the Farm Bill,” OTA CEO Tom Chapman said in the statement. “We thank the (House Agriculture Committee) leadership of chairwoman (Debbie) Stabenow and chairman Glenn (GT) Thompson, as well as Ranking Members (John) Boozman and (David) Scott, however, Congress cannot take the full year to complete a new version. The Farm Bill charts the course for agriculture, and organic farmers need updated policy and the stability and certainty that the Farm Bill provides.”