Organic News

USDA Commits $23 Million to Citrus Greening Research

April 14, 2015 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced $23 million in funding to support research and extension projects aimed at fighting citrus greening disease, also known as Huanglongbing (HLB), a bacterial disease that has infected more than 75 percent of Florida’s citrus crop since appearing in the U.S. a decade ago.

The USDA grants, available through the agency’s Citrus Disease Research and Education Program (CDRE), are available to researchers investigating both organic and conventional approaches to controlling the spread of HLB.

"Citrus greening threatens citrus production in the United States and other nations," said Vilsack. "Only long-term solutions through research will help to stop this disease that threatens the livelihoods of thousands of citrus producers and workers and billions of dollars in sales."

USDA Extends Public Comment Period on Crop Coexistence Strategies

March 20, 2015 - A first of its kind stakeholder workshop aimed at reducing conflict between the growers of organic, conventional, genetically-modified and identity-preserved crops, sparked extensive debate in North Carolina last week, prompting the U.S. Department of Agriculture to extend public comment on the event to April 10th.

The USDA held its Stakeholder Workshop on Coexistence at North Carolina State University on March 12-13 in Raleigh, North Carolina. OFRF was an invited organization at the workshop, and our Research Director, Dr. Diana Jerkins, participated in group discussions.

USDA had initially announced that public comment on the workshop and proposed USDA actions workshop participants discussed would be open until March 27. But based on feedback from workshop participants, USDA is extending the public comment period an additional two weeks. USDA has already received more than 4,100 comments about the workshop, and OFRF urges organic growers to add their voices to this vitally important discussion. 

OFRF Welcomes Policy Associate Jane Shey to Our Team

March 13, 2015 – Following a national search, OFRF is proud to announce the addition of Policy Associate Jane E. Shey to our staff. Shey brings decades of experience in national agricultural policy, including stints as a district agricultural caseworker, legislative assistant, Staff Director to a subcommittee of the House of Representatives Agriculture Committee, and Chief of Staff to Rep. Timothy Penny (D-MN). After leaving Capitol Hill, Shey started a business as an agriculture, international trade and environmental lobbyist.

Her legislative activities include working closely with the House and Senate Agriculture Appropriations Committees to obtain funding for multiple trade, research and rural development programs.  She has also worked with the House and Senate Agriculture Committees on trade, the federal crop insurance program and domestic agriculture policy, and has worked on either the legislative or regulatory side of five farm bills.

OFRF's 18th Expo West Luncheon a Smashing Success

March 13, 2015 – OFRF’s 18th Annual Luncheon at Expo West was a smashing success, welcoming more than 300 leaders of the organic community to a sold-out celebration featuring an all-organic feast, organic wine and cocktail mixer, live music, and an inspiring keynote speech from Dr. Kevin Murphy, an organic grain researcher and OFRF grantee.

This year’s March 5th luncheon, held under sunny skies on the Grand Plaza of the Anaheim Convention Center, marked the 25th anniversary of OFRF’s founding. After 18 consecutive years, OFRF’s all-organic event has become the traditional kick-off to the Natural Products Expo West trade show at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“The organic community is growing by leaps and bounds, but this event reminds us of our roots, and the fundamental role of research in organic food production,” said OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer. “The people I see here represent the committed core of organics, both past and future.”

National Organics Leaders Join Organic Farming Research Foundation Advisory Team

March 12, 2015 – Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is pleased to announce the appointment of five extraordinary leaders of the organic community to its inaugural Advisory Team. The newly-organized panel includes national leaders with deep roots in organic policy, regulation, research, education and philosophy, as well as hands-on organic farming experience.

Our new Advisory Team includes Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Dr. Frederick L. Kirschenmann, Dr. Chuck Benbrook, Dr. Nancy Creamer, and Ferd Hoefner.

Throughout their influential careers all have been steadfast friends of OFRF, and our mission of advancing the science and practice of organic farming. As advisors to OFRF, they bring deep expertise and guidance as our Foundation works toward the next phase of building and strengthening our programs.

USDA Announces $91.5 Million for Organic, Specialty Crop and Citrus Research and Extension

March 10, 2015 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of $91.5 million in grants for agricultural research and extension services, with funding targeted toward organic, specialty and citrus crops. The grants will be funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), and the Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program (CDRE), a subset of SCRI.

Of the total, $17.5 million will be available through OREI, $49 million will be available through SCRI, and CDRE will have $25 million to disburse.  

The OREI grants will prioritize biological, physical and social science research, including economics, aimed at helping certified organic growers and processors to grow and market high-quality organic products. They will also support extension services and education, with the goal of delivering practical, research-based information to organic growers across the U.S.

Eat an Organic Pineapple, Support Organic Farming Research!

March 2, 2015 - Dole has launched a month-long sales promotion that will contribute $1 to Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) for every box of DOLE®Organic pineapples sold in the U.S. and Canada from March 1-31. The promotion benefits not only OFRF and Dole’s network of organic producers, but also millions of winter-weary North Americans in need of a tropical pick-me-up.

“Is it too cold to have some friends over for organic pina colodas?” said OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer. “I think not!”

Dole, founded in 1899 and one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of fresh fruit and vegetables, is also a leader in sustainable and organic production. Dole began offering organic bananas in 2001, and has since expanded into organic pineapples, vegetables and salad mixes.  

USDA Announces $4 million for Organic Research, Extension and Alternatives

February 27, 2015 - The US Department of Agriculture’s Organic Transitions Program (ORG) is seeking applications for $4 million in research grants for fiscal 2015. This year’s grants continue to prioritize environmental services provided by organic farming systems, including soil conservation and climate change mitigation. New priorities for 2015 include development of educational tools for Extension personnel and other agricultural professionals who advise producers on organic practices, and the development of alternatives to substances recommended for removal from the National Organic Program’s list of allowed substances.

OFRF Research Partners Analyze Organic Fertilizers for Plant Health, Nutrient Levels

February 18, 2015 - Cyanobacteria are versatile organisms, able to generate oxygen, pull nitrogen from the air, and survive in virtually every ecosystem on the planet - all on a diet of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. Researchers at Colorado State University are now putting these solar-powered microbes, commonly known as blue-green algae, to work producing high-quality organic fertilizer.

A research team led by Jessica Davis, Ph.D., has shown that cyanobacteria can be grown and transformed into high-quality liquid bio-fertilizer on working farms, and that greenhouse vegetables grown with this fertilizer contain high levels of beta-carotene, a key nutrient.

Now, with financial support from Organic Farming Research Foundation, Davis’s team is broadening its analysis of organic fertilizers, aiming to provide farmers with solid data in an area that still relies heavily on industry advertising and anecdotal evidence.

USDA Organic Research Tackles Vital Issues, Report Says

February 18, 2015 - The US Department of Agriculture, which has invested in agricultural research since the late 1800s, only began including organic-specific projects in its massive research portfolio in 2002. But since that date, the agency has plowed more than $142 million into 188 organic farming studies, successfully targeting issues of vital concern to organic farmers, according to a preliminary analysis conducted by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF).

Since 2002, USDA funding has produced “a substantial body of research into priority production constraints and other vital issues for organic, transitioning-organic, and sustainable farmers and ranchers,” according to OFRF analyst Mark Schonbeck, who said he was inspired by the “extent, ingenuity and level of farmer involvement” in the agency-funded research.