A bill to promote research on and encourage investment in organic agriculture in Pennsylvania has been introduced in Congress.
The proposed bill, the Organic Science and Research Investment Act, would support the organic farming industry‚ both through expanded funding for research agencies and universities and by ensuring organics research is prioritized at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Specifically, the bill would 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 increase 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.
In an effort to expand the Biden administration’s organic research work, the bill would also create a statutory grant program to support producers’ as they transition to organic production.
Pennsylvania’s organic farms leave a significant economic footprint in the commonwealth. Pennsylvania 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. John Fetterman, one of the legislators to introduce the bill, said:
“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 Science and Research Investment 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.
- Increase mandatory funding for the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), which supplies grants to universities and other organizations for organics research.
- Build on the administration’s organic research work by creating a statutory grant program studying producers’ decisions to transition to organic production.