Policy

USDA Delays Animal Welfare Rule

On January 18th, USDA released the final rules for more stringent animal-welfare standards for organic agriculture. The new rule will now take place 60 days later than planned due to the administration's freeze on new regulations. Under the new rules, organic cattle, pigs, and poultry must be allowed outdoor access each day, and living conditions must include fresh air, sunlight, and proper ventilation.  Additionally, livestock must have at least enough space to stand up, lie down, and move about.  

Celebrate an Organic Year

As 2016 rolled into 2017 many of us made resolutions, pledging to lose weight, eat healthier, support a worthy cause, or forge deeper connections in the coming year. While most start out with good intentions, it's not always easy to live up to our expectations. 

With looming political uncertainty, and concerns over a deeply divided America, we all prepare to face changes and challenges in the coming year. As we forge ahead with hope, determination, and dedication one thing that we cannot abandon is our food system. Our food system is integral to our bodies, our communities, and our planet. Food is a language spoken by every culture, and organic food seeks to embrace diversity and biodiversity while promoting a food system that leads to c safe, healthy, and resilient communities, ecosystems, and economies for today and for future generations.

Soil Health Institute Releases Research Landscape Tool

The Soil Health Institute released its Soil Health Research Landscape tool on January 3rd.  This free online library and search engine includes more than 1,000 scientific research papers, research progress reports, and other publications and references. This will be a resource for agricultural and environmental scientists, industry leaders, agricultural producers, policy makers, journalists, and others interested in soil health.

CSP Undergoes Major Changes in 2017

The USDA recently announced a sweeping reinvention of its Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), including several changes related specifically to organic agriculture. CSP is designed to support farmers and ranchers as they actively manage and expand conservation activities on their agricultural land.

USDA Streamlines Access to Cost Share Program

Beginning March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices nationwide to apply for federal reimbursement for costs related to receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.

USDA Streamlines Access to Cost Share Program

Beginning March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices nationwide to apply for federal reimbursement for costs related to receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.

OFRF Staff Present NORA Report to CDFA

Several OFRF staff met with Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in December to discuss ideas for strengthening organic agriculture research in California. Brise Tencer, Executive Director of OFRF, Joanna Ory, Research Program Associate, and Michael Stein, Policy Associate, met at the Secretary’s office in Sacramento to present the 2016 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) published by OFRF earlier this year.

USDA Offers Grants to Help Meet Demand for Organic Products

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is offering up to $3.8M in funding to support research, education and extension for both new and existing organic farmers and ranchers. The effort is aimed at helping more farmers gain access to the growing market for organic products in the U.S., which is now valued at more than $43B.

The grants were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and are funded through the Organic Transitions Program (ORG). Applications are due March 9, 2017.

Former OFRF Board Chair Joins NOSB

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), an advisory group responsible for considering issues and making recommendations to USDA on topics including the production, handling, and processing of organic products, held its biannual meeting in mid November in St. Louis. These meetings provide the opportunity for organic stakeholders to provide input on proposed changes and recommendations. After receiving recommendations from the NOSB, the USDA will publish its final rules on the issues.

Looking Forward

The election of any new President comes with many challenges and opportunities. For the first time in eight years America is preparing for an Administration change. Starting in 2017, we will now be dealing with single party control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency.  Looking forward, the political landscape will most certainly change dramatically. 

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