[This alert is over. President Trump signed the Farm Bill on December 20, 2018.]
Support a Strong, Sustainable Food System and an Independent NOSB
Congress has been working to pass the 2018 Farm Bill, which governs an array of agricultural and food programs. The first draft bill failed to pass the House, but a new draft was just pushed past the vote on Thursday, June 21.
Meanwhile, the Senate Agricultural Committee has produced a bipartisan Farm Bill. This Senate draft bill has some advances for the organic market, including boosts to organic research funding, some provisions to address fraudulent imports, some enhanced conservation programs, and maintaining certification cost-share programs.
However, there are some problems in the Committee bill as well. First, the Senate draft bill cuts funding from the primary working lands conservation programs (Conservation Stewardship Program and Environmental Quality Incentives program). Second, there are changes to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) that are unnecessary and potentially harmful.
Those changes deal with how NOSB members vote on the inclusion and exclusion of synthetic (i.e. non-organic) materials on the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances (which dictates what farm inputs and food ingredients can be used in organic agriculture and food production). The change being proposed in the Senate Bill allows synthetic materials to stay on the list indefinitely unless voted off. This change has already been (in our opinion, illegally) enacted through order by former National Organic Program director, Miles McEvoy, and then rubber-stamped during the 2013 NOSB meeting. However, if immortalized in the Farm Bill, Cornucopia’s legal challenges to this policy will become moot.
It is vital that legislators know this change will make it easier for synthetic materials to continue being used by organic farmers – something neither consumers nor ethical organic farmers want from the marketplace.
Tell your Senators the materials on the National List should NOT stay on the list indefinitely. This move would only undermine the traditional powers of the NOSB and the integrity of the organic label.
- Call or email your Member(s) of Congress and tell them to support Farm Bill language that protects small farms and the integrity of the organic label. Click here to find your House and Senate Representatives.
- Call the Capitol switchboard: (202) 224-3121.
- Ask for your Representative and/or Senator. Once they connect you, leave a message like this one:
Hello, my name is [____] and I am a constituent. Please support family farmers, a strong organic label, and robust conservation programs in the 2018 Farm Bill. We need a Bill that supports sustainable, local, small- to medium-scale businesses and disadvantaged farmers. It is important that the authority of the National Organic Standards Board is preserved to maintain trust in the organic marketplace. In particular, I am concerned that changes to how the National Organic Standards Board votes on substances in the National List will undermine the entire organic label. Thank you.
If you are an organic livestock farmer or rancher, or are involved in the industry, please be sure to mention that. Comments from organic consumers are vitally important too, especially if you tell your Congress member why you care. If you are a consumer, you can also let your Congress member know that this regulation is vital to your continued trust in the organic label.
For an in-depth explanation of what the Farm Bill is, and why it matters for the U.S. Food system, check out this paper.