Help Restore Organic Transitions Program Funding

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March 1, 2016 - As farmers across the U.S. plan for another crop year, the increasing demand for organic products is driving more of them to consider organic agriculture. Last year alone, sales of organic agriculture products grew by 11%. At the same time, the U.S. had a $1 billion organic agriculture trade deficit—mostly in grains—because the U.S. is not producing enough product for the domestic market.

One of the most effective ways to increase organic production is through university research that helps organic farmers and livestock producers better understand the economic and environmental benefits of organic farming. 

The Organic Transitions Program (ORG) supports the development and implementation of research, extension; and more recently, education programs, to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are just beginning to adopt organic practices.

ORG was funded at $5 million in fiscal year 2010 and approximately $4 million in fiscal years 2011 through 2015.  We are seeking $5 million to restore the program to its 2010 level and to better address the growing research needs of the rapidly expanding U.S. organic sector.   

The funding increase that we are requesting would help to address these needs for farmers and consumers.

You have the power to influence Congress and help farmers and ranchers nationwide. Working together, we can create a healthy and sustainable organic food system, protect the environment, and create economic opportunity for our farmers.

Make a call, then spread the word! Thank you.

Calling your Congressional office
Phone calls are quick and easy! They are also the most effective way to make your voice heard.

Find your representative

Sample script
“Hello, my name is ___ and I’m a constituent and a voter (and tell ‘em if you’re a farmer!).  I would like to leave a message for the person who handles agriculture appropriations for [Senator/ Representative]. Can you take a message for me, please?  The message is:  As you begin writing your 2017 funding requests, I urge you to support $5 million for the Organic Transitions Program. This program funds university research that helps transitioning and organic farmers. Organic agriculture provides farmers with another market and consumers with the product they want to purchase. Thank you for your time.”

Ask
We urge Congress to support $5 million for the Organic Transitions Program to help transitioning and organic farmers.

Talking points
-The original funding for ORG was $5 million in 2010, then cut by $1 million despite growing consumer demand for organic agriculture products.

-University interest in organic agriculture research outstrips the current availability of funds.

-The $1 million increase for FY 2017 actually restores program funding to the 2010 level.

About the Organic Transitions Program
All organic transition research projects must include at least two of the following components within the proposed project: research, education, and extension activities. All project applications are expected to show evidence of stakeholder (including farmer) involvement in problem identification, and project planning, implementation, and evaluation. Projects should address practices associated with organic crops, organic animal production (including dairy), and systems integrating organic plant and animal production.

Each year, the program focuses on a discrete set of research topics that are relevant to organic production. In recent years, the program has focused on:

•      Evaluating the impacts of organic practices on the environment.
•      Optimization of environmental benefits.
•      The impact of organic agriculture on water quality.
•      The ability of organic systems to sequester carbon.

Organic Farming Research Foundation is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production.