Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) announced that the Agricultural Research Act of 2018, legislation she authored with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), was included in the 2018 Farm Bill. The 2018 Farm Bill received overwhelming bipartisan support and passed the Senate by a vote of 87-13, and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Senators Collins and Casey’s legislation will reauthorize and incrementally increase funding for USDA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) to ensure continued investment in organic agricultural research. The final agreement comes after the Senate and House of Representatives worked for weeks to reconcile the differences between each chamber’s version of the legislation.
“Over the past five years, Maine’s organic agriculture industry has grown by more than 75 percent with the support of the USDA’s successful Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative,” said Senator Collins. “Our bill will strengthen federal investments in this important research program to help ensure farmers in Maine and across the country are equipped with the data, skills, and resources necessary to meet the increasing consumer demand for organic food.”
“Serious investment in organic agricultural research is essential to the strength of American agriculture,” said Senator Casey. “This legislation will help ensure that organic and conventional farms in communities across the country have the tools they need to continue to grow. I’m pleased that my colleagues have supported this important legislation so that we can build upon the growth we’ve seen for a number of years.”
Specifically, the Organic Agricultural Research Act of 2018 will reauthorize OREI for an additional five years and gradually increase its funding from $40 million in fiscal year 2019 to $50 million in fiscal year 2023. This level of funding meets a critical threshold which makes the organic research provision a permanent part of the Farm Bill’s Research Title moving forward.
OREI is the flagship competitive organic research program at USDA, supporting applied research and extension projects that meet the needs of producers and processors that have adopted organic standards. The program helps organic and non-organic farmers alike by funding applied research projects that help growers improve their crop and livestock management skills, protect their produce from pests and diseases, ensure safe handling of fresh value-added products, and promote locally-grown options.