18 September 2023- Pennsylvania U.S. Senator John Fetterman and Senator Mike Braun (R-IN) today introduced the bipartisan Streamlining Organic Research Act. The bill would provide much needed support to the organic farming industry‚ both through protecting funding for research agencies and universities and ensuring organics research is prioritized at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“I’m proud of our work to negotiate a bipartisan compromise for OREI funding and the resulting bill that will invest in Pennsylvania’s critical organics industry. Our farmers are some of the best in the world, and we have to support them in every way possible,” said Sen. Fetterman. “We’re one of the top organic-producing states, and we need to keep it that way. Earlier this year, our state government invested $1.8 million to help conventional farms transition to organic farming, and I’m going to fight like hell to make sure the federal government’s part in supporting organic research and our small farmers gets there too.”
“The organic farming industry offers Hoosier farmers the opportunity to explore a new market that is growing quickly in Indiana,” said Sen. Braun. “This bipartisan bill would support hundreds of organic farms in Indiana and help more Hoosier farmers understand whether organic production makes financial sense for their farms.”
The Streamlining Organic Research Act will require USDA’s research agencies to better coordinate on organic research and extension, ensuring that the USDA considers organic research priorities in its budget justification to Congress and studies the feasibility of certifying more research land as organic. The bill will also maintain funding for the USDA’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), which supplies grants to universities and other research institutions for organics research and has provided nearly $5 million for organics research at Penn State University alone over the past two years.
Pennsylvania’s organic farms leave a significant economic footprint in the commonwealth. The commonwealth ranks fourth in the nation by number of certified organic farms with over 1,125. In 2021 alone, Pennsylvania farms produced and sold $1.09 billion in organic commodities. Sen. Fetterman’s legislation would protect investments in this booming and growing industry to support efforts to increase production in Pennsylvania and across the country.
The Streamlining Organic Research Act would:
- Require USDA’s research agencies to better coordinate on organic research and extension.
- Ensure USDA considers organic research priorities in its budget justification to Congress.
- Require USDA to study the feasibility of certifying more research land as organic.
- Protect mandatory funding for the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), which supplies grants to universities and other organizations for organics research.