Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) applauded the Senate’s passage of the Organic Agricultural Research Act of 2018, legislation she authored with Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) that would reauthorize and incrementally increase funding for USDA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) to ensure continued investment in organic agricultural research. This legislation is included in the bipartisan 2018 Farm Bill, which passed the Senate by a vote of 86 to 11. The Senate and the House of Representatives must now reconcile their two versions of the Farm Bill before sending a final bill to the President’s desk to be signed into law.
“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 would bolster 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.”
Specifically, the Organic Agricultural Research Act of 2018 would 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. Achieving this level of funding builds toward “baseline status” for the initiative, which would make it a permanent part of the Farm Bill’s Research Title.
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.