Apr 3, 2023
OPA’s Farm Bill recommendations include transition period tweak

The Organic Produce Association has submitted recommendations for the upcoming Farm Bill reauthorization to the House and Senate Committees on Agriculture.

The recommendations include action items for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Standards Board as well as a provision for organic growers to be able to test out of the current three-year transition waiting period with adequate certification that no prohibited substances are being used.

“Demand for organic produce is at an all-time high and continues to grow,” Theojary Crisantes, OPA chair, said in a statement. “Our members are committed to providing the highest-quality organic produce for American consumers at prices families can afford. This requires Congress and USDA to enact policies and programs that support all organic growers, whether they are growing their products in a field, a greenhouse, or by another approved method.”

The organization’s recommendations include:

  • Ensuring that the USDA National Organic Standards Board is preserved as a traditional federal advisory committee and that USDA will maintain discretion to review and administer NOSB recommendations in consultation with the Secretary of Agriculture.
  • Expanding the number of seats on the National Organic Standards Board to reflect the growth of the organic industry in the last decade, which has been led by increases in fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Setting aside at least one seat on the NOSB for an individual with experience in controlled environment agriculture.
  • Supporting increased funding of the National Organic Program, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives, and the Organic Certification Cost Share Programs.
  • As new commodity marketing labels, such as “climate smart” or “regenerative” are developed, USDA should consider the inherent benefits on products already certified as USDA organic and consider allowing an organic certification to quality for automatic conclusion in new labels.
  • Organic growers should be given the option to test out of the current three-year transition waiting period if they are able to provide adequate certification to USDA that no substances currently prohibited by USDA are present.

“We believe these recommendations are important and support the good work USDA is currently doing while providing sensible ways to improve the National Organic Program,” Crisantes said. “We look forward to working with Congress on these recommendations as the Farm Bill moves forward this year.”

Read the full recommendations here (.pdf).

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