The Lead

Pa. Sens. Fetterman, Casey introduce bill to expand funding for organic farming

By: - July 13, 2023 1:28 pm

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

U.S. Sens. John Fetterman and Bob Casey, of Pennsylvania, have joined with other Democrats in the Senate to introduce legislation to increase support for the organic farming industry. 

The Organic Science and Research Investment Act would expand mandatory funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative, which provides grants to research agencies and universities, and requires the USDA to prioritize organic research in its budget justification to Congress. 

The bill would also require the USDA to study the feasibility of certifying more research land as organic, and create a grant program for transitioning to organic production. 

“I’m proud to introduce this bill to expand resources for Pennsylvania’s critical organics industry,” Fetterman, who serves on the Senate Agriculture Committee, said in a statement. “We’re one of the top organic-producing states, and we need to keep it that way.”

Earlier this year, Fetterman added, Pennsylvania invested $1.8 million to help conventional farms transition to organic farming. “I’m going to fight like hell to make sure the federal government’s part in supporting organic research and our small farmers gets there too.”

Pennsylvania ranks fourth in the country for the number of certified organic farms, at more than 1,125; in 2021, the commonwealth’s farms produced $1.09 billion of organic goods. 

“Because of our farmers, Pennsylvania is one of the Nation’s leaders in organics, one of the fastest growing sectors of American agriculture,” Casey said in a statement. “A meaningful federal investment in this vital industry would create jobs in rural areas and market opportunities for our family farmers.”

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Kim Lyons
Kim Lyons

Kim is a veteran western Pennsylvania journalist who has covered people and trends in politics and business for local and national publications.