More than 25 years ago, Senator Leahy began to hear from Vermont farmers and consumers that there was a significant market for high quality food produced using farming practices and principles referred to as “organic." For these practices and markets to grow there needed to be a uniform, verifiable, set of standards for “organic” to have real meaning. This is why, as the then Chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, Senator Leahy wrote the Organic Foods Production Act into the 1990 Farm Bill, creating strong and credible federal standards.
On the strength of these standards organic sales have grown from what at first seemed like a small niche market to what is now an industry with $39 billion in sales annually and continues to increase every year. Vermont lead the way in writing the organic farm bill and Vermont continues to lead the way with the most organic farms, per capita, in the United States.
In each subsequent Farm Bill since 1990 Senator Leahy worked to create and improve programs that assist organic farming with certification cost share, research, farmers market and local food promotion programs and more. For more information relevant portions of the 2014 farm bill, see the Vermont highlight page for the 2014 Farm Bill.