Leahy And Vermont Organic Farmers Comment On USDA Organic Funding Announcement

(FRIDAY, Nov. 5, 2021) – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced that it will set aside $20 million in CARES Act funding to provide assistance to organic farmers who experienced losses or additional expenses as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.  In addition, the Biden administration announced it is reversing reductions in cost sharing assistance for farmers transitioning to organic made by the Trump administration in direct contradiction of provisions within the 2018 Farm Bill.

Below is a comment from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on USDA’s Thursday announcement.  Leahy is regarded as the ‘father’ of the national organic standards and labeling program and also has led in including transition funds for farmers in annual Appropriations bills. 

Leahy said:  “I applaud Secretary Vilsack and USDA for providing this support for organic farmers who need it.  This funding, made possible through the CARES Act, is both entirely appropriate and overdue.  Organic farmers, like conventional farmers, faced significant challenges during COVID, including loss of markets, supply chain disruptions, and increased costs.”

Leahy continued:  “Despite these challenges and amidst a global pandemic, the previous administration curtailed reimbursement rates for organic farmers last year, even with Congress having provided ample funding.  Today’s announcement is a welcome correction, and I applaud the Biden administration for making these changes.  Secretary Vilsack is correct: support for our farmers, organic and conventional alike, is essential if we are to build our food systems back better.”

Nicole Dehne, Certification Director at Vermont Organic Farmers, said:  “We are incredibly thankful for Senator Leahy’s work helping to secure more funding to help organic farmers and processors in Vermont and across the U.S. The organic cost share program is essential to help our Vermont farms and processors afford the extra annual cost of  organic certification.  This program helps everyone access organic certification but is essential for those operations that are small and medium sized. This funding restores the program to its full capacity and supports extra costs like soil testing. We are thrilled that our Vermont organic producers will have access to this support.”

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