The U.S. House of Representatives late Tuesday night approved the Senate version of the American Taxpayer Relief Act on a vote of 257-167 following the 2 a.m. Tuesday Senate approval by a 89-8 vote. While this brought general taxpayer relief, the organic sector was not so fortunate. This is because mandatory funds supporting organic programs in the 2008 Farm Bill did not meet the threshold “no baseline” for automatic inclusion in a Farm Bill extension.
After a week of close tracking and daily communications with OTA allies on Capitol Hill and despite a bi-partisan agreement between the House and Senate Agriculture Committee leaders to extend the 2008 Farm Bill with subsidy reforms and funding for organic, local, beginning farmer and conservation programs, a final nine-month, straight extension of the Farm Bill was passed by both Senate and House, eliminating for 2013 mandatory funding for critical organic programs including the organic data initiative (ODI), organic research and extension initiative (OREI), and certification cost-share.
This represents a huge setback for the organic sector, diversity in agriculture, and rural communities. The full text of the bill and extension are available online.