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Mark Keating's picture

USDA wants to hear from you: How Should GMO Seeds Be Regulated?

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Consultant

           USDA is currently requesting public comment on two milestone decisions involving GMO seeds and your voice is needed if we are to reject the status quo and build an organic future for American agriculture. The cutoff periods for public comment are approaching February 24 and March 4.  For too long, USDA has ignored sound science and public opinion by sanctioning the unrestricted release of GMO seeds and their leniency has produced devastating consequences for the environment, rural communities and family farmers.

Mark Keating's picture

GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR ORGANIC LIVESTOCK AND CROP PRODUCERS

    By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Consultant

     There is another organic research victory to celebrate beyond the $100 million over five years allocated to the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) in the new Farm Bill. The USDA announced this week that it is accepting applications for the 2014 Organic Transitions (ORG) program to fund the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices.  While limited to a total of $4 million for the program and an upper limit of $500,000 for individual projects, ORG grants are highly effective at bringing together agricultural professionals – primarily research scientists and extension educators – with working organic farmers to explore practical solutions to common production challenges and constraints.

2014 Farm Bill a Victory for Organic Farming

For immediate release: February 4, 2014

Contact: Brise Tencer, Executive Director

(831) 426-6606, brise@ofrf.org

 (Santa Cruz, CA)–The Organic Farming Research Foundation, which has advocated for restoration of funding for organic programs in the 2014 Farm Bill, is reacting positively to the news of passage of the Farm Bill by the Senate today. The Farm Bill restores long overdue support for organic agriculture including significant funding increases for the Organic Extension and Research Initiative (OREI), the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), the National Organic Program (NOP) and the Organic Data Initiative (ODI). Despite significant shortcomings in the commodity, conservation and crop insurance titles of the proposal, the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is celebrating the victories for organic agriculture found in the bill and urging the president to sign it.

OFRF-Funded Book Helps Organic Farmers Avoid Contamination from Genetically Engineered Crops



Press Release

Contact:
Brise Tencer, Executive Director

(831) 426-6606

brise@ofrf.org

For Immediate Release: Monday, Feb. 3, 2014

(Santa Cruz, CA) Today marks the publishing of the book, Protecting Organic Seed Integrity, the first of its kind to define best practices for farmers who want to avoid contamination of their seeds from genetically engineered (GE) crops. These are sometimes referred to as GMOs.

 
The book, funded in part by a $10,966 grant from OFRF, is published by the Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) and was distributed to 450 farmers
at this week’s 7th Annual Organic Seed Growers Conference in Corvallis, Oregon, one of the nation’s largest organic seed conferences. Beginning today, OSGATA is providing copies of the book to organic farmers without cost.
Karen Adler's picture

Sowing the Seeds of Organic Integrity

At the recent EcoFarm Conference in California, I attended a session called “Keeping GMOs out of Organic Food and Farms.” The panel included representatives from an organic food company, an environmental advocacy group, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), and an organic dairy. At a time when the clamor for organic food is greater than ever, these activists, along with thousands of people involved in organic food and farming all over the world, are concerned about the growing threat of GMO (genetically modified organism) contamination.

One thing is clear: we are at a crucial tipping point regarding the future of organic juxtaposed against the genetic engineering of our food supply. And on the frontline are seeds—the very basis of life. As Vandana Shiva says, “Seed is created to renew, to multiply, to be shared, and to spread. Seed is life itself.”

Mark Keating's picture

Action Alert - Farm Bill: Organic Victories Tempered by More of the Same Industrial Ag

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Advisor

UPDATE 1/29/14 : Victory for Organic Farmers:  House passes new Farm Bill; Senate vote expected within days.

House and Senate negotiators have agreed upon on a new five year Farm Bill which significantly increases support for key organic initiatives including the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and the Organic Data Initiative (ODI).  The bill, which must still pass the House and Senate, also contains $5 million to modernize the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) and increases funding for local, beginning and sustainable agriculture programs including $150 million over five years for the Farmers Market Promotion Program.  The bill also authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to consider the establishment of a dedicated Organic Research and Promotion Program, should the community elect to pursue one.  These groundbreaking victories, however, must be weighed against the billions of dollars which this proposal commits to the failed industrial agriculture model.

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.

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