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Meg Moynihan's picture

Leadership

OFRF Board Member, Transition Committee Chair

Several months ago, we announced a leadership transition at OFRF and I have to say that it’s really pretty exhilarating to be at the launch. 

Since November, we've been working with a professional transition consultant, and our six person transition committee (which includes both a former AND an incoming board member) has invested an enormous amount of time engaging every one of OFRF’s 15 board members and conducting hour-long interviews with an array of more than 30 people and organizations that we think of as allies in some way, shape, or form.

You will see their ideas reflected in every part of the job announcement for our new executive director – from experience and credibility in the organic community, to authentic commitment to understanding and promoting the interests and needs of organic farmers, to skill and affinity for collaborations and partnerships, to effective and inspirational management and engagement of staff, to strategic thinking, solid fundraising, and financial management skills.

Karen Adler's picture

The ABCs of GMOs

By Karen Adler, OFRF Research Consultant

The writing is on the wall—and in newspapers, magazines, and all over the internet. Most Americans want GMO labeling—93 percent, according to this New York Times survey. Even Family Circle magazine weighed in citing their poll showing that 99 percent of their readers want labeling. It’s already heating up for 2014, with Maine becoming the second state to require GMO labels, and more than half of U.S. states with pending labeling legislation. And how about industrial food giant General Mills ringing in the New Year by announcing that they will soon take their iconic Cheerios GMO-free? (Never mind that Cheerios, being made mostly from oats, are almost GMO-free already, since there are no genetically modified oats.) What really makes this big news is that General Mills identified a consumer desire of a magnitude that is driving them to jumpstart this bandwagon on a grand scale.

Mark Keating's picture

Good News for Organics in the Latest Federal Spending Bill

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Consultant

            In a hopeful sign Monday that Washington is returning to the peoples’ business, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees released a compromise fiscal year 2014 budget which both chambers will vote on this week. The spending bill sets funding levels for specific government programs using the budget ceiling of $1.1 trillion agreed to by the House and Senate Budget Committees back in December.

Mark Keating's picture

We Must Prevent Approval of 2,4-D Resistant Soy and Corn

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Consultant

In a major development in the escalating controversy over genetically engineered (GE) crops, the USDA has released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for two varieties of soybeans and one of corn which are resistant to the highly toxic herbicide 2,4-D.  In a disturbing move, the USDA is recommending the unrestricted release of all three varieties, thereby paving the way for their potential planting on millions of acres.  

Karen Adler's picture

Feeding the Future with Ancient Grains

By Karen Adler

You may have noticed grains such as quinoa, buckwheat, and spelt skyrocketing into high demand in recent years in the U.S. You may have even wondered who is meeting that demand. As it turns out, little is known about growing these and other delicious, nutritious, and potentially lucrative crops outside of their native regions, where they have been grown for thousands of years. With funding from OFRF, Kevin Murphy at Washington State University and his team of farmer and university collaborators set out to change that by identifying varieties of quinoa, buckwheat and spelt optimally adapted to organic farming systems in Washington State. From the onset, this project was requested and initiated by organic farmers and continues to rely on farmer participation.

Klaas Martens's picture

Some of the Most Vital Research Needs Time and Money to Bear Fruit

By Klaas Martens, OFRF Board Member

"When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe."
- Naturalist, John Muir

Imagine what more than a century of studying soil in one place might tell us?

The Morrow plots were established in 1876 and are the second oldest long-term systems trials (LTST) in the world.  Data from the Morrow plots has shown that: "soil quality is a vital component of agricultural productivity." The oldest continuously operating system trial is at Rothamsted Manor in England.  It started in 1843 just as synthetic fertilizer manufacturing was beginning to study its effect on soil and wheat production.

Mark Keating's picture

New Film “Seed: The Untold Story” Sounds an Alarm About Our Food Future

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Advisor

“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today”   

We don’t know precisely who originated this saying, but its wisdom speaks to us all.  The story of human civilization is inseparable from our heritage as seed breeders.  Most of our food, medicine, clothing and yes, the beautiful flowers which inspire us resulted from thousands of years of skillful selection and breeding practices drawing upon the abundant genetic diversity of plants.

Mark Keating's picture

Flood of Comments First Step Towards Correcting Proposed FSMA Food Safety Rules

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Advisor

              We knew the stakes were high and apparently lots of other folks agreed. http://www.wisfarmer.com/news/headlines/fsma-comes-under-fire-b99150917z1-233454541.html By last week’s close of the public comment period on the FDA’s proposed regulations to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), more than 20,000 farmers, concerned consumers and grassroots organizations had weighed in.  A big THANK YOU to everyone for making your voices heard as this monumental process moves forward – you are making a major difference.

Mark Keating's picture

FSMA Rules Threaten Small Organic Farmers: Comment Deadline Friday

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Advisor            

            This Friday, November 22 brings to a close your opportunity to comment on the FDA’s proposed rules for implementing the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).  Making your voice heard in an informed, constructive manner is essential for protecting the rights of farmers and consumers to build the organic and local food systems, which are our surest path to a sustainable future.

            The organic community has always supported fair, practical and efficient regulations to improve food safety, but virtually nothing in FDA’s current proposal satisfies those conditions.  As drafted, it would cripple small- and medium-sized farming operations with burdensome and expensive compliance requirements http://sustainableagriculture.net/blog/food-safety-comments-top-10/   which cannot be justified by what we currently know about food safety.  Provisions in the proposal would largely eliminate the use of natural fertilizers including compost, require farmers using irrigation to test their water weekly and severely restrict the burgeoning local foods movement.

Mark Keating's picture

Looking on the Bright Side

There was no Farm Bill at this time a year ago, as Congressional dysfunction led to the legislation’s expiration.  Congress rallied in December 2012 and extended the Farm Bill for nine months, minus nearly $500 million in crucial funding for organic, local and beginning farmers.  The recent budget impasse in Washington shutdown all USDA farm credit and conservation compliance activities and forced the Department to cancel the National Organic Standards Board meeting scheduled for Louisville, KY.

With this history of achievement, it takes a healthy streak of optimism to get fired up about this week’s Congressional negotiations to renew the Farm Bill and pass a 2014 budget.  OFRF and its national network of partner organizations  will stay in the thick of those deliberations, though I personally look forward to a more relaxed atmosphere inspecting organic farms across Kansas, Colorado and Nebraska.

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