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US: Senate bill to invest in organic agriculture research applauded

The Organic Center and The Organic Trade Association applauded Senators Bob Casey (D-PA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) for introducing The Organic Agriculture Research Act of 2018, which increases federal investment for organic agriculture research in the next farm bill to meet the needs of the growing organic sector. Sales of organic products in the U.S. are now almost $50 billion annually, and expectations are for continued growth as more consumers choose organic.

The Organic Agriculture Research Act would increase annual funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) from its current $20 million to $50 million by 2023. Established in 2002, OREI is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) flagship organic research program, supporting research projects that address the critical challenges faced by organic farmers in their fields every day. OREI has funded 179 projects worth almost $170 million since its inception.

Laura Batcha, Executive Director and CEO, Organic Trade Association: “Robust funding for organic agriculture research is critical for organic’s continued advancement. We applaud Senators Casey and Collins for their support of this important legislation. The Organic Research Act of 2018 invests in the future of organic farming by guaranteeing that research keeps up with the burgeoning industry. Ensuring adequate funding for organic research is one of the Organic Trade Association’s top priorities for the Farm Bill, and we are grateful for the bipartisan support in Congress that this priority has received.”

Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Program, The Organic Center: “The future of organic and the continued success of organic farmers depends upon the long-term investment in the science of organic farming. The Organic Center applauds Senators Casey and Collins for their vision and their efforts to support serious investment in organic research. Since it was established in the 2002 farm bill, the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), organic’s premier competitive grants research program, has enabled new organic crop varieties, breakthroughs in pest and weed control, crop rotation, and the development of effective and compliant farm inputs. Adequate funding for this important program is essential to enable further research advancements.”

Dr. Edward Jaenicke, Agricultural Economist, Penn State University: “I’m someone who has been researching the topics of organic agriculture and organic food markets since the mid-1990s, and virtually all of my research in this area has been supported by federal or state public funds. The Organic Research and Extension Initiative is particularly valuable in incentivizing researchers to undertake more practical projects that have strong potential impacts for farmers and ranchers.”

Britt Lundgren, Director of Organic and Sustainable Agriculture, Stonyfield Organic: “Organic agricultural research has been instrumental in advancing the productivity and sustainability of organic agriculture in this country, and the benefits of that research have extended beyond the organic community. The benefits of organic research have been significant, and adequate funding for research and extension is essential. For far too long organic research has been under-funded compared with the rest of agriculture. This bill will ensure that organic agriculture receives a fair portion of federal agriculture research funding. Stonyfield applauds Senators Collins and Casey for advancing this important legislation.”

For more information:
The Organic Center

Publication date: 2/13/2018



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