OFRF co-hosts farm visit and attends Farm Bill Listening Session for Rep. Panetta, other Congressional Members.
On August 23, OFRF hosted our partners and Representative Panetta (CA-20) on a tour of Tablas Creek’s vineyard operations with Partner and General Manager Jason Hass and Jordan Lonborg, their viticulturist. After this farm tour, we all made our way to Paso Robles for a Farm Bill listening session with Representatives Carbajal, Costa, Lofgren, and Panetta with Rep. Costa chairing the meeting. This is one of many meetings like this happening across the United States, we encourage everyone to reach out to their congressional delegation to find opportunities like this and highlight the issues facing agriculture to their representatives.
Although we faced high temperatures, the tour was incredibly impressive. We all had the opportunity to learn more about the organic, regenerative practices being utilized by Tablas Creek. Like a large majority of organic producers, the vineyard prioritizes building healthy, living soils that build resilience to the increasingly hot and dry summers in the Paso Robles region. A particularly interesting piece of their operation is the use of sheep for nutrient and weed management, ultimately saving costs and frustrations in a difficult agriculture labor market. Rep. Panetta was particularly interested in their use of dry farming techniques, an incredibly important practice in such a drought impacted region of the country.
At the listening session, we joined a diverse group of stakeholders and OFRF had the opportunity to highlight the importance of the organic sector in providing both environmental and climate benefits as well as creating economic opportunity for producers, especially in CA, the leading state in organic production. We spoke about the need for Farm Bill programs to continue to invest funds in organic research, transition assistance, certification cost share, and technical assistance. Both Representatives Costa and Panetta asked follow-up questions of us on the needs of organic producers and how programs like the organic certification cost share can help create opportunities. Other stakeholders touched on diverse other issues, including the importance of USDA programs like conservation, crop insurance, as well as local issues such as the worsening drought and lengthening fire seasons and the role that the region’s cattle, vineyard, and specialty crop producers play in building resiliency to these climate-aggravated challenges.
Ultimately, it was a day full of fruitful discussions that will inform the 2023 Farm Bill process. We look forward to continuing to strengthen the connections between our representatives in the halls of the Capitol and the producers that we all depend on for safe, healthy, and tasty food and drink.
The USDA unveiled the Organic Livestock and Poultry Standards (OLPS) Proposed Rule, with public comments on the rule open until October 11, 2022. OFRF is happy to see this significant step towards clarifying the animal welfare requirements associated with organic certification.
In short, OLPS ensures that there are clear, robust standards for livestock production authorized under the Organic program. While this is an important step for animals being raised in organic systems, it is also important for consumers who want USDA organic certification to include significant animal welfare practices.
Two significant actions this rule takes are:
- Describing standards on living conditions, healthcare, transportation, and slaughter practices that support animal welfare for mammalian livestock;
- Establishing indoor and outdoor poultry space requirements and stocking density limits, and clarify that enclosed porches will not be considered outdoor space for this requirement.
Both of these policies will strengthen organic standards related to outdoor access and appropriate, humane living conditions.
OFRF will continue to work with organic partners to advocate for strong enforcement and compliance for this rule. That is why OFRF is joining the Organic Trade Association, and other signatories, to call for the USDA to reduce the implementation period for egg producing operations from 15 years to no more than 5 years. Allowing 15 years to implement these requirements represents generations of chickens that live in substandard conditions while the operators continue to enjoy the market premium associated with the rule’s provisions.
We are also calling on you to provide feedback to the USDA! Consider the National Organic Coalition Template, or the Organic Farmer’s Association or Organic Trade Association’s individual comment tool. We need to be clear that the USDA must implement this rule quickly!
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), in partnership with the Foundation for Food and Agriculture (FFAR), is pleased to announce two more 2021-22 Organic Research grants, awarded to Axel Garcia y Garcia and Jennifer Taylor. These awards are the the last of six projects in OFRF’s current 2021-22 organic research grant cycle.
- Dr. Axel Garcia y Garcia, Associate Professor at University of Minnesota, aims to address Upper Midwestern organic grain growers’ struggle with integrating cover crops into the corn aspect of their rotations. This project will evaluate various management factors including seed selection, timing, and type of mechanical operations to optimize this key part of sustainable organic corn production
- Dr. Jennifer Taylor, farm owner at Lola’s Organic, a participatory capacity building agricultural research and outreach project that will identify needs, hindrances and barriers with BIPOC farmers and help farmers walk through the development of their own organic farming systems.
OFRF’s grant program funds research on organic production systems and the dissemination of these research results to organic farmers and agricultural research communities. The 2021/22 grant cycle prioritized early career researchers and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) applicants, and awarded on-farm projects focused on climate mitigation and resilience.
As a result of OFRF’s research, education, and outreach efforts, thousands of farmers have received pertinent research and training information. Results from all OFRF-funded projects are available to access for free in an online database.
Thank you to FFAR and our research partners for making the 2021/22 organic research grant program possible.
SANTA CRUZ (May 19, 2021) – The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) are thrilled to announce the continuation of their partnership to fund on-farm research advancing the climate benefits of organic agriculture systems. Priorities will focus specifically on the potential of organic agriculture to sequester carbon, mitigate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, reduce the environmental impacts of fertilizers and pesticides, and build resilience to a changing climate. Following an initial collaboration in 2019, this partnership has been renewed with a $66,000 grant from FFAR to support OFRF’s 2021/2022 organic research grant cycle. OFRF is providing matching funds to ensure a total investment of at least $120,000 this grant cycle.
The partnership between OFRF and FFAR has been instrumental in providing research that enables organic producers, and others wishing to farm more sustainably, to implement practices that optimize management of nutrient, weed, pest and disease while improving soil health. Five of the thirteen research grants OFRF funded in the 2019/2020 grant cycle focused on soil health and were a direct result of the previous FFAR grant.
“Organic systems that emphasize soil health help farmers and ranchers increase resilience to the impacts of climate change,” said OFRF’s Executive Director Brise Tencer. “There is also extensive research demonstrating the potential of organic systems to reduce agriculture’s contribution to climate change. FFAR’s ongoing investment in farmer/researcher collaborations will support science-based solutions addressing the most pressing challenges facing organic farmers and ranchers today.”
“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with OFRF to fund research that can improve soil health, mitigate the effects of climate change, and support thriving farms,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Dr. Sally Rockey. “Soil is the foundation for a productive agricultural system. Investing in cutting-edge research and technologies today with partners such as OFRF will ensure the soil health is optimal for generating nutritious food for the future.”
OFRF’s grants program is open to all applicants in Canada, Mexico and the United States. Proposals must involve farmers or ranchers in project design, and implementation must take place on certified organic land. All research projects require strong education and outreach components and must lead to measurable outcomes. OFRF will request Letters of Intent (LOIs) for its 2021 grant cycle this summer. Interested parties are encouraged to sign up for OFRF’s newsletter to be notified when the request for LOIs will be released.
To date, OFRF has invested over $3 million in 355 grants across North America. OFRF grant funding has advanced scientific knowledge and improved the ecological sustainability and economic prosperity of organic farming systems. OFRF’s research, education, and outreach efforts have provided thousands of farmers with pertinent, free information and training.
Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) builds public-private partnerships to fund bold research addressing big food and agriculture challenges. FFAR was established in the 2014 Farm Bill to increase public agriculture research investments, fill knowledge gaps and complement USDA’s research agenda. FFAR’s model matches federal funding from Congress with private funding, delivering a powerful return on taxpayer investment. Through collaboration and partnerships, FFAR advances actionable science benefiting farmers, consumers and the environment.
Organic Farming Research Foundation
The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) 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. Project results are shared freely at ofrf.org. OFRF also provides free access to all of its educational materials and resources.