05.25.18

Appropriations Vice Chair Leahy Engineers Boost In Funding For Organics

… More funds to certify and inspect organic produce and to help farmers who choose to go organic …

WASHINGTON (FRIDAY, May 25, 2018) — Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that the fiscal year 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill advanced by the Committee Thursday includes significant increases to organic programs. Leahy has long championed organic agriculture and is recognized as the ‘father’ of the National Organic Program, having created it as part of the 1990 Farm Bill.

The bill, as approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee, includes $15 million for the National Organic Program, a $3 million increase over fiscal year 2018. The National Organic Program is a USDA regulatory program that develops and enforces organic standards required for the organic label. The bill also includes $6 million for the Organic Transition Program Organic produce, once a niche industry has grown to be a more than $40 billion market, offering an important value-added option for Vermont farmers.

Leahy said: “These funds are instrumental not only in helping farmers who want to start growing organic produce, but also to protect the integrity of the organic label, as more and more large farms look to cut corners and skirt organic rules. I remain committed to organic agriculture so that Vermont farmers can bring fresh, value-added products to market and Vermont consumers can trust the organic label and know how their food was grown.”

The approval Thursday of the 2019 Agriculture Appropriations bill by the Senate Appropriations Committee – one of the 12 annual Appropriations bills that fund the federal government – is the first step toward these funds being signed into law by the President. The bill heads next to the full Senate floor for approval. Chairman Shelby and Vice Chairman Leahy through their bipartisan partnership are working to pass all 12 appropriations bills this year, returning to regular order and giving the American people more voice in the appropriations process.

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