Newhouse, Davis propose bill improving federal oversight process for organic standards

U.S. Reps. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL), who are co-chairmen of the House Organic Caucus, on April 30 introduced a bipartisan bill to establish a new framework for advancing organic standards and improve oversight and enforcement of new rules and guidance to spur industry innovation.

“It’s imperative that we provide our organic growers certainty and help spark further innovation and improvement within the organic industry,” Rep. Newhouse said.

The Continuous Improvement and Accountability in Organic Standards Act, H.R. 2918, which Reps. Davis and Newhouse cosponsored with bill sponsor U.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), would require the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to initiate and complete a notice and comment rulemaking to implement recommendations approved by the National Organic Standards Board, according to the congressional record bill summary.

“Each year, more and more consumers are choosing products with the USDA Organic label, yet producers are held back from fully meeting the demand for organic products due in part to slow rulemaking at the USDA,” said Rep. Davis. “Our bipartisan legislation will clear the backlog of rule recommendations from the National Organic Standards Board and speed up and improve rulemaking in the future.” 

Organic is a voluntary regulatory program for farmers and businesses who choose to meet strict federal standards to market their products under the USDA organic seal. However, the USDA has stifled innovation by not acting on any of the 20 recommendations made to USDA for improving organic standards made over the last 20 years by the industry, according to information provided by Rep. Newhouse’s office.

“Central Washington organic growers should not be kept in regulatory limbo,” said Rep. Newhouse. “I’m sponsoring the Continuous Improvement and Accountability In Organic Standards Act so that USDA is required to clear the backlog of recommendations to improve our organic standards.”

“I’m proud to support legislation like this that cuts red tape and ensures federal regulators aren’t inhibiting a growing industry like organic,” Rep. Davis added.