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OPN Connect Newsletter 195 · December 3, 2020

Climate Change Tops Organic Trade Groups' Post-Election Agendas


By Melody Meyer

Leaders from several organic trade organizations are weighing in on what the incoming administration could mean for the organic sector, and some of the priorities for the new administration to tackle.

The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), the Organic Trade Association (OTA), California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), and the Organic Farmers Association (OFA) have already connected with Biden’s team, with climate change at the top of their respective agendas.

Stemilt September 2021

Brise Tencer, executive director at OFRF, said, “Organic regenerative practices such as cover cropping, crop rotations, and conservation tillage work with nature to build healthy soil and help mitigate climate change by capturing and storing more carbon and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It is critical for federal policies to promote the expansion of organic acres and provide support for producers adopting these practices.”

Brise Tencer, Executive Director, OFRF

OFRF has spent the last five months working closely with partner organizations to align on key priorities and strategies, writing public comments and blog posts to strengthen their coalitions and developing research and policy recommendations in preparation for the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration, with an emphasis on a future climate bill and the 2023 Farm Bill.

Organics Unlimited September 2021

The organization’s four-part policy platform aims to ensure that any federal-level climate policy includes support for organic farmers as critical partners in climate change mitigation efforts.

OFRF has spent the last five months working closely with partner organizations to align on key priorities and strategies, writing public comments and blog posts to strengthen their coalitions and developing research and policy recommendations in preparation for the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration, with an emphasis on a future climate bill and the 2023 Farm Bill.

OFRF believes that to enhance regenerative organic agriculture’s potential to address the climate crisis, Congress and the new administration need to:

  • Increase investments in organic agriculture research.
  • Remove barriers and strengthen support for organic systems.
  • Promote the widespread adoption of organic agriculture through technical assistance and financial incentives.
  • Expand research to advance our understanding of organic farming practices that sequester carbon, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and build resilience and to identify barriers to adopting those practices.

“With a new administration moving into the White House, it is more important than ever to make organic voices heard,” Tencer said. “We have delivered a transition letter to the Biden-Harris administration with a list of action steps they can take immediately to increase support of organic agriculture in the U.S.”

Red Sun Farms September 2021

“With a new administration moving into the White House, it is more important than ever to make organic voices heard.” -Brise Tencer

OTA believes that the USDA National Organic Program is the most comprehensively regulated and closely monitored sustainable food system in the United States. The organization believes that the organic industry has struggled under President Trump as his administration’s deregulatory agenda has harmed the industry’s reputation with consumers and caused economic hardships for organic farmers.

“The Biden administration must get things back on track: it needs to prioritize the advancement of organic standards, reestablish organic’s voice within [the] USDA and ensure that organic farmers and businesses have a seat at the table in climate change discussions,” said Laura Batcha, CEO and executive director of the OTA.

 

Starr Ranch September 2021

Laura Batcha, CEO and Executive Director, OTA

“Organic is a choice←a choice for farmers and businesses and a choice for consumers. Organic operations work hard every single day to abide by the strict organic standards and to honor the trust of consumers” she said. “Our federal government plays a critical role in the success and advancement of organic, and we look forward to working with the Biden administration to help repair the public-private partnership to advance continuous improvement in organic. Having robust, consistent standards is critical for the growing organic industry.”

Batcha said the OTA places top priority on organic being a part of the climate policy discussions at the USDA. “Organic agriculture presents an opportunity to help farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change, and investment in sustainable agriculture and conservation should be a key pillar to fight climate change. Organic agriculture should be recognized in future conservation-based incentives programs developed by USDA,” she said.

NatureSafe September 2021

“Organic is a choice←a choice for farmers and businesses and a choice for consumers. Organic operations work hard every single day to abide by the strict organic standards and to honor the trust of consumers.” -Laura Batcha

Jane Sooby, Senior Outreach and Policy Specialist at CCOF, said her organization wants the new administration to create opportunities where organic is the norm in both farming and food.

Jane Sooby, Senior Outreach and Policy Specialist, CCOF

“The pandemic, while devastating, has shown how versatile the organic food and farming sector is and has increased consumer focus on health and good food, bolstering organic sales over the past eight months. We hope to continue to expand access to organic food to every community in the nation, “she said. “We see an opportunity to recognize organic as a crucial part of the solution to the country’s most pressing problems, from public health to economic recovery and climate change.”

Sooby said to mitigate climate change, strengthen public health, and protect the environment, organic farming, ranching, and food manufacturing will have to scale up as never before.

“We see an opportunity to recognize organic as a crucial part of the solution to the country’s most pressing problems, from public health to economic recovery and climate change.” -Jane Sooby

“To do this will require increased public investment in organic research and expansion and streamlining of programs such as EQIP that help offset the costs of implementing conservation practices,” she said. “We want organic to have a seat at the table in climate discussions. The organic sector welcomes the opportunity to expand on the climate-friendly practices used by organic farmers.”

Valent September 2021

OFA sent a letter to the USDA listing some priorities for the new administration. OFA’s policy director Patty Lovera said, “OFA believes that for organic agriculture to meet its potential to address climate change, help family farms flourish, revive rural communities, and protect public health, the USDA must take several steps to protect the integrity of the USDA certified organic label.”

Patty Lovera, Policy Director, OFA

Some of OFA’s priorities for the new administration include:

  • Enforcement: A critical step for the new administration is to finalize and implement the “Strengthening Organic Enforcement” proposed rule as quickly as possible.
  • Organic Certification Cost Share Program: This must be restored to the funding levels for this program mandated by Congress (75% of certification costs, up to $750, per scope).

“OFA believes that for organic agriculture to meet its potential to address climate change, help family farms flourish, revive rural communities, and protect public health, the USDA must take several steps to protect the integrity of the USDA certified organic label.” -Patty Lovera

  • Climate: We urge the new administration to prioritize research to document how organic practices can maximize carbon sequestration.

OFA’s mission is to provide a strong and unified national voice for domestic organic.“That mission extends to the new administration's work building and staffing a new USDA,” said Lovera.  

Decco September 2021
OGS September 2021
Duncan September 2021

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