New legislation offered in the Senate would make changing conventionally farmed land to organic production easier.

Called the Homegrown Act of 2017, the legislation was sponsored by Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and mirrors a bill with the same title introduced in August by Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H.

“There’s no reason food companies should look overseas when the best farmers in the world are right here in Pennsylvania,” Casey said in a news release. “As demand for organic products grows, we must do all we can to help American farmers and ranchers meet this demand.

Maggie McNeil, director of media relations for the Organic Trade Association, Washington, D.C., said the group welcomed the bill.

“We did not work on this particular legislation, but we certainly support any effort by Congress to help advance organic agriculture in the U.S.,” McNeil said.

According to a news release, the legislation would:

  • Modify the Conservation Stewardship Program to provide technical and financial assistance to growers as they transition to organic;
  • Modify the Environmental Quality Incentives Program by eliminating the separate payment limit in place for EQIP Organic Initiative. 
  • Modify the Conservation Reserve Program to expand opportunities for producers interested in transitioning to organic farming or ranching under a separate CRP Transition Incentives Program.