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Organic needs a large voice to influence the next Farm Bill

Organic needs a large voice to influence the next Farm Bill
At first glance, natural foods have a miniscule share of the Farm Bill’s funding. But the industry can have great influence on how legislators support nutrition programs, organic certification and even food research.

“A lot of times, [members of Congress] say, ‘I didn’t hear from anyone about organic research, so I didn’t include it in my priorities.'”

—Megan DeBates, director of legislative affairs, Organic Trade Association 

Part 1: Farm Bill 101: How this legislation drives the country’s food supply

Highlights from Mark Lipson, Organic Farming Research Foundation: 

  • More than 79 percent of the Farm Bill’s allocation goes to the SNAP program, formerly known as food stamps.
  • Organic food programs receive about $1 billion of the more than $954 billion included in the Farm Bill.


Part 2: Organic advocates prioritize their Farm Bill wishes


  • Farm Bill priorities from the Plant Based Foods Association (Michele Simon), Organic Trade Association (Megan DeBates), Organic Farming Research Foundation (Mark Lipson) and Berkeley Food Institute (Nina Ichikawa).
  • The USDA needs more funding to protect organic farmers and consumers from fraud. 
  • Publicly funded organic food research drives innovations in the private sector, but more is needed.


Part 3: Everyone in natural foods must make their voices heard


  • Engage with your members of Congress and know their positions before the midterm elections.
  • The food industry is one of the biggest economic drivers in the country, affecting both rural and urban areas.


Part 4: The Farm Bill will fail without bipartisan support


  • Nutrition and agriculture come together, supporting low-income residents in rural and urban areas.
  • Republicans and Democrats will fight over the Farm Bill until the last minute.


Part 5: Audience members ask about Big Food, conservation research


  • Big Food companies are buying organic startups, so they care about research and assistance programs. 


This session—Farm Bill 2018: What You Need to Know—was recorded at Natural Products Expo West 2018. Click download to access the presentation slides.

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