From: The Honorable Peter A. DeFazio
Sent By: megan.debates@mail.house.gov
Date: 3/3/2016

SUPPORT ORGANIC AGRICULTURE IN FY 2017

*This is a programmatic request*

Deadline to Sign Letter COB March 11th

FY16 Signers: Blumenauer, Bonamici, Capps, Cartwright, Chu, Conyers, Courtney, Delaney, DelBene, Ellison, Esty, Fattah, Gabbard,Hank Johnson, Huffman, Kuster, Larsen, Lee, Loebsack, Lujan Grisham, Sean Patrick Maloney, Nadler, Plaskett,  Pocan, Polis,Sablan, Schakowsky, Schrader, Slaughter, Speier, Tsongas, Van Hollen, Vargas, Walz, Welch

Dear Colleague:

As Co-Chairs of the Congressional Organic Caucus, we recognize the contribution the organic industry has made to the U.S. economy and especially to rural America. We ask that you join us in supporting investment in organic agriculture by signing our letter to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies encouraging them to fund key programs in FY 2017 that support organic farming and development.

Organic is one of the fastest growing sectors in U.S. agriculture. In 2014 the organic sector experienced an 11% growth rate, yet funds for organic programs make up less than one percent of the USDA budget.  Funding these programs is a minimal and highly cost-effective investment in rural America that will keep over 14,000 family farmers on the land.

We request the following levels of funding for these programs in FY 2017:

Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program ($30 million)

The National Organic Program ($9.1 million)

Organic Transition Program ($5 million)

Organic Production Market and Data Initiatives ($559,000)

To join us in signing the below letter please contact Megan DeBates in Rep. DeFazio’s office at megan.debates@mail.house.govThe deadline to sign on is COB Friday, March 11th.

Sincerely,

Peter DeFazio                        Richard Hanna                       Ron Kind

Member of Congress            Member of Congress            Member of Congress

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Chairman Aderholt and Ranking Member Farr:

As you draft the Fiscal Year 2017 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies appropriations bill, we ask you to invest in organic agriculture by funding key programs that underpin the sector’s strong growth at the levels needed in order to make them successful. The organic agriculture sector is a growing industry that keeps over 14,000 American family farmers on the land, profitably producing food that is increasing in demand. After experiencing double-digit growth for a decade, the sector continues to experience positive growth and grew by over 11% in 2014 to $39.1 billion.

Ensuring the continued growth of organic agriculture requires continuing the modest but important federal investment in organic agriculture. There is a critical set of national programs that work synergistically to provide the research, information, and regulatory oversight so that the industry can flourish.  These programs are:

  • Organic Transitions Integrated Research Program (ORG)

ORG is a competitive research, education, and extension program that funds research that organic farmers need to improve and increase production.  Funding ORG would help bridge the gap between organic sector growth and research investment at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

  • National Organic Program (NOP)

NOP enforces the national organic program standards, accredits certifiers, develops equivalency agreements, handles complaints – in essence, NOP performs regulatory oversight of the organic label, ensuring its integrity.  Funding NOP would ensure that NOP keeps pace with the sector’s strong growth.

  • Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE)

SARE has helped turn farmer-driven research, education, and extension initiatives into profitable and environmentally sound practices for over two decades.  Funding the program would jumpstart the Federal-State Matching Grants program and continues important on-farm research.

  • Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives (ODI)

ODI is a multi-agency organic data collection initiative that collects information vital to maintaining stable markets, creating risk management tools, and negotiating equivalency agreements with foreign governments.  Funding ODI would allow for continued price data collection and dissemination through Market News Reports.

We also support efforts to encourage USDA to act to the full extent of its authority to improve access and participation for certified organic operations and those transitioning to organic in existing USDA programs such as the farm-to-school program, the Beginning Farmer and Rancher Development Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program.  We also support efforts to encourage USDA to act to the full extent of its authority in implementing the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program.

Funds invested in organic agriculture programs have accounted for less than one percent of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s budget in recent years, but the return on that investment has been substantial.   Organic agriculture is a growing industry that provides jobs throughout the supply chain – from farm fields to small businesses.  We ask that you support its growth by funding the programs listed above.

Sincerely,