Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Bob Casey (D-PA) have joined together to introduce the Organic Agriculture Research Act in the Senate.
The bill will renew the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), the USDA’s flagship organic research program, and increase the funding annually over the life of the next Farm Bill.
“Over the past five years, Maine’s organic agriculture industry has grown by more than 75 percent with the support of the USDA’s successful Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative,” says Sen. Collins. “Our bill would bolster federal investments in this important research program to help ensure farmers in Maine and across the country are equipped with the data, skills, and resources necessary to meet the increasing consumer demand for organic food.”
Renewal of the USDA’s dedicated organic agriculture research grants program continues to gain important bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress.
“Serious investment in organic agricultural research is essential to the strength of American agriculture,” said Sen. Casey. “This legislation would help ensure that organic and conventional farms in communities across the country have the tools they need to continue to grow. I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation so that we can build upon the growth we’ve seen for a number of years.”
This bill is similar to the House Organic Agriculture Research Act (H.R. 2436) that was introduced last May by Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Jimmy Panetta (D-CA). H.R. 2436 calls for $250M in total funding over the next five years. The new Senate bill would allocate a total of $200M over the next five years.
Both bills will be considered by the respective Agriculture Committees for inclusion in the 2018 Farm Bill.
“The Organic Farming Research Foundation and the farmers we serve are very appreciative of Senators Collins and Casey,” says Brise Tencer, executive director at OFRF. “We applaud all the sponsors in both chambers for their bipartisanship and recognition of why organic research matters.” According to Tencer, “the economic and environmental benefits of more U.S. organic farms and businesses can be felt positively in communities all across America. The frontiers of scientific knowledge for organic systems are a great investment.”
Since its inception, OREI has developed a substantial body of research-based information and to address challenges faced by organic farmers and help all farmers be more sustainable. With increased funding, OREI can continue to lead the way in cutting-edge research, education, and extension for American farmers.
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production.