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New Educational Guides Now Available

OFRF is excited to announce a new series of educational guides designed to help organic farmers and ranchers enhance the soil health and overall resilience of their operations. “These guides to practical organic soil health management will assist farmers in selecting the best practices for their particular circumstances, while leading the way toward more sustainable agricultural systems," said Diana Jerkins, Research Program Director at OFRF.

Organic Week Kicks Off with D.C. Briefing

OFRF, in partnership with the Organic Center and the House Organic Caucus, held a Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. May 22nd to educate members of Congress on the importance of organic research. At the briefing, Kelliann Blazek, Legislative Assistant to Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), discussed the bipartisan legislation Pingree introduced earlier this month. If passed, the Organic Agriculture Research Act would raise funding for USDA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), from $20 million to $50 million annually.

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Farmers are stewards of the land. We are all invested in their success. 

Organic farming practices conserve water and generate healthy soil. Healthy soil sequesters carbon from the atmosphere and is one of the most powerful and immediate methods we have to reduce greenhouse gases. However, we won’t see the true impact of organic farming until we can scale it.

Bipartisan Bill Supports Increased Funding for Organic Research

On May 16th, Representatives Chellie Pingree (D-ME), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), and Jimmy Panneta (D-CA) introduced a bill to support increased funding for organic research. The Organic Agriculture Research Act will raise funding for USDA’s Organic Research Extension Initiative (OREI) from $20 million to $50 million annually.

OFRF drafted language and advocated for passage of the $15,000,000 OREI in the 2002 Farm Bill and is pleased to support this bill. “Since its inception, OREI has developed a substantial body of research-based information and tools to support the success of organic farmers across America,” said Brise Tencer, Executive Director at OFRF. “At a time when the demand for organic food is increasing, it is critical that we continue funding research that supports this promising opportunity for rural communities across the U.S.”

OFRF Researcher Provides Testimony on Organic Research

The Senate Agriculture Committee held a Farm Bill field hearing in Frankenmuth, Michigan on May 6th. “Growing Jobs and Economic Opportunity: Perspectives on the 2018 Farm Bill from Michigan” was facilitated by Chairman Pat Roberts and Ranking Member Debbie Stabenow, and included testimony from 17 witnesses on issues ranging from nutrition assistance and rural development, to organic research.

Research Addresses Lack of Organic Strawberry Starts

Due to the unobtainability of organic starts, conventional strawberry starts are the main source of transplants for both conventional and organic farmers. Although the USDA’s National Organic Program regulations currently allow organic growers to use conventionally propagated starts, organic strawberry growers would naturally prefer to use organic.

Double Digit Growth Continues for Organic Sector

New data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released this week shows double digit growth in the organic sector—an increase of 13 percent between the end of 2015 and 2016. According to USDA there are now 24,650 certified organic operations in the United States and 37,032 around the world.

Organic Farmers Talk, Panetta Listens

What’s on the minds of organic farmers in California’s 20th Congressional District? Newly elected Congressman Jimmy Panetta got some answers to that question and more when he sat down with local farmers and other leaders from the organic agriculture sector this week at OFRF’s Santa Cruz office. The roundtable discussion provided a great opportunity to help ensure the needs of organic farmers are represented in the upcoming Farm Bill, which Panetta will be helping to write as a member of the House Committee on Agriculture.

Congress Voices Support for Research

OFRF took part in the Agricultural Research Congressional Exhibition & Reception on April 5th at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. The event, which drew a diverse crowd of university researchers, USDA officials, congressional staff, congressmen, and senators, featured cutting edge USDA funded research from over 20 universities. Organized by the AFRI Coalition, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research, and the SoAR Foundation, the event also featured several speeches from elected officials, including Chairman of the House Agricultural Committee Mike Conaway, Congressman Rodney Davis, Senator John Hoeven, and Congressman Jimmy Panetta. 

Research Aims to Reduce Use of Nitrogen Fertilizers

In 2012 and 2013, OFRF provided research funding to James Nienhuis at the University of Wisconsin to identify snap bean genotypes with enhanced nitrogen-use efficiency (NUE). The current snap bean cultivar used in the industry does not fix nitrogen and requires supplemental nitrogen applications. Nitrogen applications have resulted in groundwater pollution problems throughout the state of Wisconsin. The commercialization of a nitrogen fixing cultivar, which will occur following Dr. Nienhuis’ final farm trial this summer, has the potential to decrease nitrogen use in this industry and protect water quality.

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