Senator Welch Introduces Bill to Reduce Barriers to Organic Agriculture
WASHINGTON – Senator Peter Welch and eleven other senators introduced a bill to reduce barriers to organic agriculture, and a House companion bill led by Congressman Jimmy Panetta is expected soon. The Opportunities in Organic Act of 2023 is designed to help farmers pursue organic agriculture by offering a suite of easy-to-access tools, expert technical assistance, and flexible funding for underserved farmers and ranchers.
“Organic production has huge benefits for our rural economies and our environment—but farmers can’t make the switch to organic practices without help,” said Senator Welch. “The Opportunities in Organic bill will give these folks the support they need to make the transition to organic and thrive while they do so. That’s a win for our farmers and for our communities.”
The bill was introduced with support from NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) and a broad coalition of organizations that serve organic and transitioning producers across the country.
The following are statements from supporters of the Opportunities in Organic Act:
“Organic producers protect the long-term health of our food and farming system–and the people and resources who make it work–by building successful businesses that steward healthy soil, ecosystems, and communities, while reducing reliance on costly and harmful synthetic pesticides and fertilizers,” said Allison Johnson, a Senior Attorney at NRDC. “This bill will help ensure organic is accessible to consumers across the country and entice more farmers to go organic. The broad support for the Opportunities in Organic Act sends a clear signal to leaders drafting this year’s Farm Bill–organic stands ready as a time-tested choice with sweeping economic, environmental, and health benefits. Our public investments in agriculture should reflect that.”
“Organic agriculture can help farms build thriving businesses while stewarding the natural resources upon which our future depends,” said Abby Youngblood, Executive Director at the National Organic Coalition. “But only if we can reduce the barriers that farming operations face as they seek to transition to organic systems of production. The Opportunities in Organic Act is a wise investment to help more operations build resiliency, steward healthy soil, and take advantage of the growing demand for organic food in the marketplace.”
"Milk is one of the foods that drives consumers to first try organic, but small organic dairies are struggling,” said Kate Patenaude, Green Valley Organic, Holland, Vermont. “My parents made the choice to transition to organic seven years ago, and now my fiancé and I are transitioning our own herd to organic to join them because it's better for our planet and health. I'm excited that the Opportunities in Organic Act would offer resources to help farmers like me work on business plans and grow organic supply chains so we can continue as the next generation on the organic family farm."
“The pandemic showed us that supporting a vibrant and nimble local food system is crucial for homeland security. Investing in healthy organic local food systems is a win-win for our nation,” said Kate Mendenhall, Executive Director of Organic Farmers Association and Owner/Operator of Okoboji Organics farm in Northwest Iowa. “The Opportunities in Organic Act reduces the barriers farmers face when transitioning to organic and provides them the necessary support to successfully achieve the three-year transition to organic.”
The bill is cosponsored by Senators Baldwin, Booker, Casey, Fetterman, Gillibrand, King, Markey, Murphy, Padilla, Sanders, and Smith.
The Opportunities in Organic Act is supported by organizations that work with organic producers across the country, including: Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, Environmental Working Group, Farm Action Fund, Georgia Organics, Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association, Midwest Organic Services Association, National Organic Coalition, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, National Young Farmers Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northeast Organic Farming Association of NJ, Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY, Northeast Organic Farming Association of VT, Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association, Oregon Tilth, Organic Farmers Association, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Organic Seed Alliance, Pennsylvania Certified Organic, Rural Coalition, and Union of Concerned Scientists.
- The Farm Bill Needs Opportunities in Organic (May ‘23)
- New Report: Unlocking the Potential of Organic Agriculture (October ‘22)
- Advancing a Transformative Farm Bill (September ‘22)
- Opportunities in Organic Enhance Climate Resilience (February ‘23)
- Organic Transition Programs Can Transform Food Systems (August ‘22)
NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Established in 1970, NRDC uses science, policy, law, and people power to confront the climate crisis, protect public health, and safeguard nature. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, Beijing and Delhi (an office of NRDC India Pvt. Ltd). Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.