Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin introduced legislation to support organic producers. The legislation will give producers the tools they need to increase their production, reach new markets, and also grow their businesses. The Organic Market Development Act would codify and increase support for a newly announced U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program, which aims to solve supply chain gaps for the organic market through grants to farmers and businesses as demand increases for organic products. In 2021, U.S. sales of organic food products reached $52 billion, nearly double the sales done in 2010.
“Wisconsin’s organic farmers and businesses are stepping up to meet the growing demand for organic products, and I’m committed to delivering the support they need to grow their businesses and reach new markets,” said Senator Baldwin. “This legislation will build on the success of the Organic Market Development Grant program and allow more producers to access these resources and tools to grow our agriculture economy and ensure Wisconsin remains a leader in the organic food industry.”
In May of 2023, USDA announced a $75 million investment in the Organic Market Development Grant. The program aims to support the development of new organic markets and also expand market. The program will also support building and expanding capacity for certified organic production, processing, manufacturing, storing, transporting, wholesaling, distribution. Development of consumer markets will also be a focus. Businesses can purchase new equipment, study new product formulations, and expand and also upgrade their facilities to accommodate new products.
Retail sales of organic fresh fruits and vegetables were an estimated $19.2 billion in 2021. It has trended upward for the past two decades. In 2021, Wisconsin ranked second in the nation for the total number of organic farms with 1,455. Wisconsin also had the seventh-highest total sales in certified organic commodities at $313 million.
The Organic Market Development Act will codify the Organic Market Development Grant program that is currently administered by Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), building on the initial $75 million annual authorization by maintaining the base Commodity Credit Corporation investing and authorizing an additional $25 million in appropriations for 2024 and each fiscal year thereafter.
The development program will:
- increase the capacity of the domestic organic product supply chain for producers, handlers, suppliers, and processors of certified organic products;
- modernize manufacturing, tracking, storage, and information technology systems;
- improve the capacity of eligible entities to comply with applicable regulatory requirements or quality standards required to access markets;
- expand capacity for processing, aggregation, and also distribution of certified organic products to create more and better markets for producers of certified organic products
- facilitate market development for domestically produced certified organic products;
- conduct feasibility studies and market viability assessments to inform organic transition strategies and opportunities;
- address barriers to entry to organic product certification for historically underserved entities; and
- support market and promotional activities that help build commercial markets for certified organic products in the United States.