Collins Speaks Up, Perdue Applauds Efforts of Organic Farmers

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Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue was on Capitol Hill today testifying in front of the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies. Facing questions from the Senators on our food and farm economy, Secretary Perdue addressed a variety of issues ranging from trade between the U.S. and China and farm commodity prices to organic agriculture research.

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a champion of organics, expressed her concern over the lack of funding for organic research. “We are seeing more people become involved in farming and over the past five years organic farming has grown by 75% in Maine,” said Senator Collins. “We should be helping producers meet the growing demand for organic products.”

Senator Collins and Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced the Organic Agriculture Research Act in the Senate last year. The bill renews the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), the USDA’s flagship organic research program, and increases the funding from $20 million to $50 million annually over the life of the next Farm Bill. 

It also bolsters federal investments in this important research program to help ensure farmers across the country are equipped with the data, skills, and resources they need to meet the increasing consumer demand for organic food.

When asked about the organic agriculture research program by Senator Collins, Secretary Perdue applauded organic producers across the country for working hard to build a $50 billion business that is growing every year, crediting organic farmers and ranchers for their ingenuity, creativeness, and innovation. “Research is important to all of agriculture, including organic,” said Secretary Perdue.

OFRF is thankful for Senator Collins and her continued support for organic research. We will continue to work with the Senator and her colleagues in Congress to provide a much-needed funding increase for organic research.  As Secretary Perdue pointed out, organic producers across the country have been “scratching and clawing” to grow organically. With increased support in the Farm Bill, OREI can help both organic and conventional farmers innovate, solve problems, and increase productivity.

Watch Senator Collins’ testimony here.