Late last week, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations package to fund the government through September 30, 2016. The President signed the bill, avoiding a government shutdown the week before the holidays. The bill provides $21.75 billion in discretionary funding to USDA and FDA—which is $925 million more than last year’s enacted level and $34 million less than the USDA request. In particular, the omnibus:
- Maintains funding of the National Organic Program (NOP) at roughly $9 million
- Maintains level funding of the Organic Transitions research program (ORG) at $4 million
- Does not limit funding of the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) at $20 million
- Does not limit funding of the National Organic Certification Cost Share program at $11.5 million
- Does not limit funding of the Organic Data Initiative (ODI).
Moreover, the omnibus did not include any language to preempt state efforts to require GMO labeling, and delays the approval of genetically engineered salmon until FDA provides guidelines for labeling the fish as genetically engineered.