Congress funds government through September 2013

Last week, Congress passed a continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown by funding the government through the end of September. The CR implements a nearly 8 percent cut as a result of sequestration, and most programs are funded at lower levels than in FY 2012. Unfortunately, it also includes a policy rider allowing the planting of genetically engineered crops, even when a court has found they were approved illegally. This provision undermines USDA’s oversight of GE crops, interferes with the U.S. judicial review process, and is arguably unconstitutional. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), along with Senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), introduced an amendment that would have struck this pro-biotech language. Unfortunately, Senate leadership did not allow the Tester amendment to come to the Senate floor for a vote. The silver lining is that the pro-biotech language is in effect for only six months, so we look forward to working with Senator Tester and co-sponsors to revisit this again later this year. We continue to fight for the 37 programs that were stranded without funding by the January Farm Bill extension, including the Organic Agriculture Research Extension Initiative and the Organic Production and Market Data Initiatives. We also are moving on to the FY 2014 appropriations battle, and are advocating for funding organic priorities. For more details, contact Marni Karlin, OTA’s Associate Director of Legislative and Legal Affairs.

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