Oct 2, 2023
OTA applauds legislation to boost organic food opportunities

The Organic Trade Association is applauding the introduction of the Organic Market Development (OMD) Act, saying it will help unlock the potential of the organic marketplace and ensure continued growth of the segment in the U.S.

The Organic Market Development Act was introduced in the Senate by Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.; Angus King, Ind.-Maine; Peter Welch, D-Vt.; and Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; and its companion bill was introduced by Reps. Anne Kuster, D-N.H.; Chellie Pingree, D-Maine; and Andrea Salinas, D-Calif. 

Organic Trade Association logoThe OMD Act is aimed at leveraging investments in new and expanded organic markets by funding and supporting increased processing capacity, market development activities, targeted equipment purchases, and other activities to increase consumption of domestic organic commodities. The legislation codifies an existing USDA program and is fundamentally about solving the supply chain gaps for the market to support organic farmers and businesses, according to an Organic Trade Association news release. It creates a development program, administered by USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, to offer grants annually.

“With the strategic investments offered in the OMD Act, the organic community can unlock the potential of the organic marketplace and continue the growth trend and capitalize on the recent investments made by USDA in organic farming,” Tom Chapman, CEO of the Organic Trade Association, said in the release. “Passage of this legislation is key to ensuring transition and growth of organic at the farm level is carried through to the marketplace.” 

“This legislation will build on the success of the Organic Market Development Grant program and allow more producers to access these resources and tools to grow our agriculture economy and ensure Wisconsin remains a leader in the organic food industry,” Baldwin said in the release.

 “As Maine’s organic farmers face increasing challenges from changing global markets, climate change, and more, we must continue to provide resources and support to help them evolve with the times,” King said in the release.

“Organic agriculture is the fastest growing sector in the United States food industry — we need to support our farmers and producers as they grow more healthy food to meet rising demand,” Kuster said in the release.

“As more farmers consider making the transition from conventional to organic farming, we must strengthen organic processing and storage and enhance market opportunities,” Pingree, a longtime organic farmer and member of the House Agriculture Committee, said in the release.

The demand for organic is so strong that the growth has outpaced the infrastructure development needed for organic farmers and businesses to fully expand their markets and to capitalize on the economic benefits for growing organic, according to the Organic Trade Association. Lack of processing capacity and aggregation facilities, uncertain market access, and an insufficient supply of certain organic ingredients are challenges the segment has to face in identifying and developing markets. 

While the U.S. organic sector has expanded to an over $67 billion market, domestic organic acreage has not kept pace with the growth in demand for organic products. The OMD Act will enable more domestic producers to take advantage of the economic opportunity offered by the robust organic market, according to the association. 

The OMD Act maintains existing funding of $75 million annually through Commodity Credit Corporation funding, and provides for an authorization for appropriations of $15 million for each fiscal year, starting in 2024.

“The Organic Market Development Act strongly compliments existing and proposed legislation with federal investments in organic research, farm-level transition opportunities, and process improvement for an effective oversight and regulatory function to ensure and maintain the organic standards and consumer confidence,” Chapman said in the release.

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