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OARS Scholarship Recipients Share Experiences

With funding support from Ceres Trust, OFRF awarded 20 scholarships to help with the cost of attending the 2017 Organic Agriculture Research Symposium held earlier this year in Lexington, Kentucky. Scholarships were awarded based on the need and merit of applicants.

Scholarship recipients were asked to submit a write-up of their experiences at the conference. Here are a few excerpts from their reports.

House Ag Subcommittee Meets on Research Investment in Upcoming Farm Bill

The House Agriculture Committee’s Subcommittee on Biotechnology, Horticulture, and Research held a hearing on March 16th to discuss agricultural research in the next Farm Bill. OFRF attended the hearing and will continue working with members on the Subcommittee, as well as the full Agriculture Committee, to help ensure Congress and the USDA are dedicating vital agricultural research investments that support organic farmers, and those seeking to transition to organic agriculture.

Kathleen Merrigan Delivers Keynote at OFRF Luncheon

OFRF’s 20th Annual Benefit Luncheon at Natural Products Expo West offered up a delicious organic menu and thought provoking discussion on the future of organic agriculture. The luncheon is a time-honored kickoff to Natural Products Expo West, the world’s largest natural products show, attracting more than 77,000 attendees to the Anaheim Convention Center.
 

USDA Agriculture Outlook Forum

A panel discussion exploring the future of organic agriculture drew a packed room at the USDA Agriculture Outlook Forum on February 23rd. “The Outlook for Organic Agriculture,” moderated by OFRF’s Executive Director, Brise Tencer, examined the prospects for organic producers, consumer demand, and new initiatives to encourage organic transition. This is the second year organic has had its own session and OFRF was excited to see such a high level of interest.

Farm Bill Hearings Begin

Two weeks ago, the House Agriculture Committee kicked off its Farm Bill discussion with a hearing to review the economic challenges facing rural farmers. While much of the discussion focused on low farm commodity prices and declining net farm income for conventional agriculture, both Congressman John Faso (R-NY) and Congressman Rodney Davis (R-IL) mentioned organic farming, with Mr. Faso pointing out the strong market for organic dairy.  While testifying before the committee, Dr. Johansson, the USDA Chief Economist, highlighted the strong economic opportunities for domestic organic producers. 

OFRF Presents Research Needs at USDA Listening Session

On March 2nd, USDA’s Office of the Chief Scientist held a stakeholder listening session to identify opportunities, knowledge, and gaps in agricultural research, and evaluate research priorities for enhancing U.S. agricultural production systems over the next 50 years.  

OFRF’s Research Program Director, Diana Jerkins, presented to a wide ranging group of USDA officials, congressional staffers, researchers, associations, and non-profits on the challenges and research priorities identified in OFRF’s 2016 National Organic Research Agenda.

Input Needed for Biodiversity and Organic Farming Survey

A new research study, "Biodiversity and Organic Farming in the United States," led by OFRF Board member Carolyn Dimitri, based at New York University, needs the input of certified organic growers nationwide. The study will gather information about opportunities to measure or increase biodiversity in organic farming.

SARE Offers Free On-Farm Research Guide

A new resource from Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE)  provides detailed instructions for crop and livestock producers, as well as educators, on how to conduct research at the farm level using practical strategies and peer-reviewed research findings. How to Conduct Research on Your Farm or Ranch also includes a comprehensive list of in-depth resources and real-life examples.

Calling All Researchers

On April 5th, the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, National Coalition for Food and Agricultural Research, Supporters of Agricultural Research Foundation, and the AFRI Coalition are partnering to convene an Agricultural Research Congressional Exhibition and Reception in Washington D.C.

Organicology Focuses on Sustainable Food Future

The Organicology conference in Portland, Oregon the first week of February offered education, workshops, and networking opportunities for thousands of organic enthusiasts and stakeholders. The conference included discussions on a broad array of topics, from business and marketing issues to the transition and growth of organic farmland. Much of the talk revolved around the opportunity for increasing organic production in the U.S. in order to fulfill growing demand currently being met with imported product. Opportunity abounds, but not without serious challenges. Hearing directly from farmers and everyone along the supply chain at this conference, the message was clear. We all need to work together on solutions that will move us toward a significant increase in organic agriculture in the U.S.

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