House of Representatives Passes Farm Bill by 213-211 Vote

House of Representatives Passes Farm Bill by 213-211 Vote

House of Representatives Passes Farm Bill by 213-211 Vote

The House of Representatives passed the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (Farm Bill) yesterday by a 213 to 211 vote. No Democrats voted for the bill based on their opposition to expansion of the work requirements for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as Food Stamps). The Senate is expected to vote on their version of the Farm Bill next week. The current Farm Bill expires on September 30 of this year.

The House version

  • clarifies issues relating to crop insurance for organic production,

  • clarifies eligibility for organics to the Market Access Programs (foreign market promotion efforts subsidized by USDA),
  • authorizes up to $30,000,000 annually for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative and allows for projects on soil-health to compete for those grants,
  • clarifies regulatory requirements for auditors that conduct certifications outside of the United States,
  • establishes permission for the Secretary of Agriculture to develop methods for the expedited review of post harvest handling materials related to food safety as it pertains to the National List,
  • clarifies that employees (and not just owners) may serve as members of the National Organic Standards Board,
  • establishes a task force that shares information of the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food and Drug Administration with the NOSB regarding products they deem as having "reasonable certainty than no harm will result" that NOSB is considering for inclusion or exclusion from the National List,
  • explicitly allows for the sharing of business confidential information during investigation and enforcement actions by members of the industry, auditors and government employees,
  • gives access to the NOP to import databases of other agencies that monitor and regulate imports,
  • requires NOP to give an annual report of their investigations to Congress,
  • authorizes USDA to impose additional documentation requirements for products at higher risk of fraud,
  • requires USDA to update their regulations on which types of entities will still be exempt from organic certification requirements (brokers and certain handlers),
  • authorizes increases to the NOP budget from $15,000,000 per year in 2018 to $24,000,000 by 2023, and
  • creates a mandatory funding source of $5,000,000 per year through 2023 for NOP investment in trade tracking systems and transaction certificates to allow for enforcement and fraud prevention without unduly burdening the industry.  

The CSO will continue to monitor the Farm Bill process to minimize any potential negative impacts on organic growers utilizing containers, hydroponic and/or aquaponics in their production systems. 

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