Home > News Center > Congress Funds Agriculture Programs for FY24 – looks ahead to FY25

Congress Funds Agriculture Programs for FY24 – looks ahead to FY25

On March 6, 2024, the House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2024 Consolidated Appropriations Act (H.R. 4366) by a roll call vote of 339-85. Farmers and food and fiber companies across the country can finally breathe a sigh of relief with the risk of a USDA shutdown being put to bed after a series of short extensions and shutdown threats since fiscal year 2023 funding expired last September. For over 20 years, the Organic Trade Association has persistently advocated for robust funding of federal programs supporting organic. We’d like to share background on the appropriations process, an overview of current funding levels, and a preview of the funding environment for fiscal year 2025.

How it works:

Congress creates federal programs by passing legislation, such as the Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, which created the National Organic Program (NOP). However, funding for those programs follows a separate legislative path based on the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, which allows money to be drawn from the treasury.

During the appropriations process, the House and Senate appropriations committees’ work can be influenced by the President’s budget. The President’s budget is created by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) using budget requests from federal agencies. The budget for the upcoming fiscal year is typically published early in the current calendar year. The federal fiscal year runs from October 1st through September 30th.

Although the NOP was authorized in 1990, the organic standards were not finalized until October 2002, which was fiscal year 2003. In that first year, NOP was appropriated $1.2 million to regulate the USDA organic seal. Around that time, the International Trade Center UNCTAD/WTO estimated US retail sales of organically labeled products were between $9 and $9.5 billion.

Over the last two decades, the Organic Trade Association has advocated consistently for funding increases for NOP, the Organic Production and Marketing Data Initiative (ODI), and the Organic Transitions Research Program (ORG). As time has progressed and new organic programs and initiatives have arisen, OTA has pressed for funding to Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE), and other programs.

Historically, the National Organic Program funding has been increased by about 10% each year in appropriations. OTA has advocated those funds be used to advance organic rulemaking. Appropriations is a funding process, not a policy-setting process. However, Congress uses report language to communicate priorities to the federal agencies, which often influences how the money is spent. Congress used report language several times to ask NOP to focus their growing budget on organic rulemaking. In response to the organic feedstuff crisis, OTA led a campaign to include report language in the FY23 appropriations package that led to the Organic Dairy Marketing Assistance Program.

FY24-25 organic funding:

Five months into FY24, Congress finally passed an appropriations bill - which included USDA funding - to the President’s desk. Here is a breakdown of the current funding for federal organic programs that OTA advocated for, along with FY25 priorities we are advancing right now.

National Organic Program (NOP)

OTA requested the program be funded at $26.4 million - 110% of the maximum amount authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. In a break from tradition, NOP did not receive the 10% annual increase the program has grown accustomed to. While the flat funding keeps the pressure on industry to elevate the importance of organic, the contentious and fiscally conservative themes of FY24 made avoiding budget cuts feel like a win.

Fiscal Year 2023 Enacted

Fiscal Year 2024 President's Budget

Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted

$22.8 million

$24.044 million

$22.8 million

In FY25, OTA recommends funding NOP at $29 million. The President’s Budget requests a modest increase to $23.2 million.

Organic Transition Research Program (ORG)

OTA requested the program be funded at $10 million. ORG consistently receives more funding requests than can be accommodated. This year, Congress maintained the program at $7.5 million for the third year in a row.

Fiscal Year 2023 Enacted

Fiscal Year 2024 Budget

Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted

$7.5 million

$7 million

$7.5 million

In FY25, OTA recommends funding ORG at $15 million. The maximum award for ORG projects was recently increased to account for the growing cost of research. As a result, the program has become more competitive and less projects are awarded each year. Raising concern, the President’s Budget only requests $4 million for ORG. Organic advocates must come together this year to drive home the importance of dedicated organic research dollars. Organic research must not be lost amid other research priorities.

Organic Data Initiative (ODI)

OTA requested ODI is funded at $1 million, consistent with the last several years. Congress provided the same funding as FY23 for USDA to carry out the initiative.

Fiscal Year 2023 Enacted

Fiscal Year 2024 Budget

Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted

$1 million

No mention

$1 million

In FY25, OTA again requests ODI be maintained at $1 million. The President’s Budget does not mention the program.

Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)

Mandatory funding for OREI was one highlight of the 2018 Farm Bill. Because the program reached the $50 million threshold of mandatory funding, OREI is included in the baseline of the Farm Bill and was automatically continued in the Farm Bill extension Congress passed last November. OTA still requests additional funds be appropriated on top of OREI’s mandatory funds every year.

OTA requested an additional $10 million of discretionary funding for OREI in FY24. Congress did not appropriate any additional funds for OREI.

Fiscal Year 2023 Enacted

Fiscal Year 2024 Budget

2024 Mandatory

$0 million

$47 million mandatory

$47 million

In FY25, OTA is again advocating for an additional $10 million for OREI.

National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program (NOCCSP)

OTA requested $5 million be appropriated for NOCCSP in FY24. The program was funded at $24 million for the life of the 2018 Farm Bill, or until the money ran out. Those original funds have been exhausted, and Congress did not appropriate additional amounts to cost share in FY24. However, $8 million for NOCCSP was included in the November 2024 extension of the 2018 Farm Bill. Click here for our letter urging agriculture committee leadership to fund the organic orphan programs in the Farm Bill extension.

In FY25, OTA recommends appropriating $11 million for organic cost share. The President’s Budget does not mention the program.

Organic Market Development Grant Program

This year for the first time, OTA is advocating Congress to continue the Organic Market Development Grant Program (OMDG) in FY25. In 2023, OMDG was funded at $75 million through the Commodity Credit Corporation, and the program received $218 million in project requests. There is clear demand for this program, which serves to shore up our domestic supply chain while improving market opportunities for farmers.

OTA is also advocating to make OMDG permanent in the next Farm Bill. Learn more about the Organic Market Development Act here, download our one-pager, and sign on to endorse the bill.

How you can help:

If you wish to support our legacy of organic advocacy, OTA members are welcome to join our US Government Affairs Forum or Farm Bill Task Force. Members can also support the Organic Political Action Committee, which works to grow and support organic champions in Congress. Finally, members and non-memebrs alike can join us for Advocacy Day at Organic Week 2024 to bring your organic story to the Hill.

By Laura Holm, Legislative and Farm Policy Associate