OFRF Provides Testimony to full House Ag Committee on the Role of Climate Research Supporting Ag Resiliency

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(JULY 6, 2022) – Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) Research & Education Program Manager Thelma Vélez, PhD, recently testified before the full House Agriculture Committee hearing on “The Role of Climate Research in Supporting Agricultural Resiliency.” As one of five panelists invited to share their expertise, Vélez summarized research findings that demonstrate the potential for organic systems to mitigate climate change and build resilience. Her testimony and extensive Q&A reflected Dr. Vélez’s 15+ years of interdisciplinary research experience and thorough recommendations for more investment in organic research, education, and extension to support American farmers and ranchers. The hearing took place on Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at 10:00 AM ET, and is publicly available for viewing on the House Ag Democrats YouTube channel.

“OFRF was honored by the invitation to speak before the full House Agriculture Committee,” said Brise Tencer, OFRF Executive Director. “We are proud to share our expertise based on many years of reviewing and tracking research related to organic farming and climate mitigation and adaptation.”

Vélez was the first to speak before the full House Agriculture Committee, roughly 20 minutes into the livestreamed hearing. “While the organic method has been shown to have great potential to contribute to both climate mitigation and climate resilience, much more action-oriented research is needed to make widespread adoption possible,” testified Vélez.

Throughout the three-hour meeting, Vélez responded to questions from House Representatives including Alma Adams, Shontel Brown, Bobby Rush, Chellie Pingree, Glenn Thompson, Rick Allen, Annie Kuster, Angie Craig, and Jim Baird.

“It was an honor to be invited to weigh in on a critical issue facing our nation and impacting the backbone of our food system,” said Vélez. “It is clear that many representatives are concerned with building resilience across America’s farms and the message that organic growers are leaders in this movement was well received.”

In her testimony, Vélez cited OFRF’s recently published 2022 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA), a 230-page report compiling survey results and listening session data from over 1,000 certified organic producers. Over half of the farmers surveyed were concerned with adapting to climate change and nearly 90% stated they implemented regenerative soil health management practices, such as cover cropping, a climate-friendly practice.

When fielded a question from Rep. Kat Cammack, Vélez drew from experience with South Florida farmers who focused on carbon sequestration and soil fertility. In conversation with Rep. Stacey Plaskett, Vélez advocated for increased investment in climate research for U.S. Territories. Having researched and worked with farmers building resilience to a changing climate in the Caribbean, Vélez recommended a focus on farmer-led work and “researchers on the ground with farmers.”

OFRF has led organic farming and research initiatives since its inception in 1993 and has advocated for federal policy supporting integrated research, education, and outreach to farmers who build healthy resilient farming systems that withstand climate change and steward the land for future generations. “It is a testament to how OFRF serves as a reliable and consistent resource on the sound science behind organic farming systems,” said Tencer.

On June 24, 2022, OFRF submitted supplemental testimony to the House Committee on Agriculture. The organization recommends expanded support of key USDA research programs including the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education program (SARE), in the next Farm Bill. Citing its 2022 NORA report, OFRF also advocates for investments in technical assistance, university extension, and farmer training.

The testimony also states that organic agriculture is a proven strategy to help build resilience in the face of supply chain disruptions and climate change. Organic agriculture maximizes the effective use and cycling of on-farm and regionally-sourced resources and minimizes reliance on industrially produced inputs. Organic farmers produce food every day without relying on synthetic fertilizer – supplies for which have been impacted by the war in Ukraine. OFRF supports actionable research that focuses on the wide adoption of organic systems of production and the climate resiliency services it offers.

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About Organic Farming Research Foundation
Organic Farming Research Foundation 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. http://www.ofrf.org/

Media Contact
Caroline Baptist, OFRF Communications Manager, caroline@ofrf.org

By |2022-07-06T17:55:49+00:00July 6th, 2022|News, Press Release|

OFRF and FFAR Announce On-Farm Organic Research Grant Addressing Climate Resilience for Coffee Producers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(June 29, 2022) – The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) are pleased to announce its second award for the 2021/22 OFRF organic research grant cycle. Alejandra Guzman Luna, affiliated with Universidad Veracruzana and in collaboration with the Agroecology and Livelihoods Collaborative at the University of Vermont, was awarded $19,970 to evaluate organic farming practices for staple crops in Chiapas, Mexico.

Mexico’s highland region of Sierra Madre del Sur, known for its coffee production, has been severely impacted by the climate crisis. The local area experiences food insecurity and total profitability for smallholder coffee producers remains volatile. This project takes a participatory research and demonstration approach to develop and integrate organic staple crop production into more sustainable organic coffee agro-ecosystems.

“Diversity and mutual collaborations are always the best way to approach agriculture and research,” said Guzman Luna, principal investigator for the project. “I am thankful to OFRF for founding our Participatory Action Research designed and carried out with smallholder coffee producers to move staple crops into organic practices in the south of Mexico.”

The project will address the perceived lack of viable organic alternatives in growing staple crops such as corn and bean. The research team will conduct a participatory diagnosis of the challenges of growing staple crops organically; co-design and establish four experimental and educational plots; and systematize the results and widely disseminate them to local ag leaders and communities, other smallholder coffee cooperatives in the region, actors in the coffee value chain, scholars, and general public.

“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. “We are pleased to invest in farmer/researcher collaborations that support science-based solutions addressing the most pressing challenges facing organic farmers and ranchers today.”

This year’s program prioritized farmers, early career researchers and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) applicants. Six projects focused on climate mitigation and building on-farm resilience have been awarded a grand total of $119,817 in funding. The 2021/22 cycle was made possible by a $66,000 grant from FFAR and matching funds from OFRF and its research partners.

“FFAR is thrilled to support six organic research grants through this collaboration with the Organic Farming Research Foundation,” said Dr. LaKisha Odom, FFAR scientific program director. “These research grants are funding audacious soil management techniques that enhance crop productivity, improve environmental health and support increased farmer resiliency to severe weather events.”

To date, OFRF has invested over $3 million in 361 grants across North America to advance scientific knowledge and improve the ecological sustainability and economic prosperity of organic farming systems. All OFRF-funded research must involve farmers or ranchers in project design and implementation, take place on certified organic land, and include strong education and outreach components. All research results are freely available in OFRF’s online database.

(Photos: Traditional and organic milpa of Doña Amalia, a member of the coffee cooperative.)

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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.

https://foundationfar.org/


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.

http://ofrf.org

By |2022-06-29T23:01:44+00:00June 29th, 2022|News, Press Release|

OFRF’s Thelma Vélez to Speak to House Agriculture Committee on Agricultural Resiliency, Climate Research

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(June 14, 2022)Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) Research & Education Program Manager Thelma Vélez, PhD, will testify before the full House Agriculture Committee hearing on “The Role of Climate Research in Supporting Agricultural Resiliency.” Vélez was invited to share her expertise and will be summarizing research findings that demonstrate the potential for organic systems to mitigate climate change and build resilience. She will also recommend more investment in organic research, education, and extension to support American farmers and ranchers in implementing the best practices for climate mitigation and adaptation. The hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, June 15, 2022 at 10:00 AM ET, and will be live streamed on the House Ag Democrats YouTube channel.

Vélez has over 15 years of interdisciplinary agriculture and food systems research experience. She will speak on behalf of Organic Farming Research Foundation, a national nonprofit that works closely with researchers, organic farmers, and policy makers across the U.S. to understand the challenges farmers face, and to provide the research and education tools needed to help them thrive.

OFRF recently published its 2022 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA), a 230-page report compiling survey results and listening session data from over 1,000 certified organic producers. Over half of these farmers were concerned with adapting to climate change and nearly 90% of NORA participants implemented regenerative soil health management such as cover cropping, a climate-friendly practice.

“Less than 1% of the USDA’s annual research budget is spent on organic production topics, which is not aligned with the organic sector’s continually growing market share of 6%,” says Vélez. “While the organic method has been shown to have great potential to contribute to both climate mitigation and climate resilience, much more action-oriented research is needed to make widespread adoption possible.”

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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.
http://ofrf.org

Media Contact
Caroline Baptist, OFRF Communications Manager, caroline@ofrf.org

By |2022-06-15T10:11:32+00:00June 14th, 2022|News, Press Release|

OFRF and FFAR Announce Research Grant on Organic Farming Approaches to Coffee Leaf Rust Disease

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(June 9, 2022) – The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) are pleased to announce its first award for the 2021/22 OFRF organic research grant cycle. Colehour Bondera of Kanalani Ohana Farm was awarded $19,900 to research organic farming systems options for controlling Coffee Leaf Rust (CLR) on five organic farms in Kona, Hawaii.

This farmer-led research project takes a whole-systems approach to evaluate plant health-based options for managing coffee leaf rust (CLR), a potentially devastating disease for all coffee growers but especially organic farmers. Long-term organic growers have seen limited efforts in the state to explore or disseminate information about organic approaches to dealing with this new coffee disease.

“Funding from this OFRF grant provides an opportunity to help working farmers address the arrival of a new pest via farmer-directed research,” says Bondera. “By seeking community involvement and buy-in, this project supports the work of five participating organic farms to learn and work with Hawaii-produced coffee tree inputs to seek impacts at controlling the pest, coffee leaf rust – CLR, which currently has no known long-term solution in the global coffee industry.”

The project will research coffee leaf rust management by increasing biodiversity, using on-farm and island-made inputs and sequestering more carbon through increased soil organic matter. The impacts of additional fertilizer and indigenous micro-organisms (IMO) sprays on reducing CLR will be monitored and tested, with University of Hawaii organic system faculty assisting with analyses. Farmers will oversee research, data analysis and dissemination through already established networks in the community.

“We are thrilled to be able to invest in this research that supports the success of a key organic crop in Hawaii,” said Brise Tencer, OFRF Executive Director.

This year’s program prioritized farmers, early career researchers and Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) applicants. Six projects focused on climate mitigation and building on-farm resilience have been awarded a grand total of $119,817 in funding. The 2021/22 cycle was made possible by a $66,000 grant from FFAR and matching funds from OFRF and its research partners.

“FFAR is thrilled to support six organic research grants through this collaboration with the Organic Farming Research Foundation,” said Dr. LaKisha Odom, FFAR scientific program director. “These research grants are funding audacious soil management techniques that enhance crop productivity, improve environmental health and support increased farmer resiliency to severe weather events.”

To date, OFRF has invested over $3 million in 361 grants across North America to advance scientific knowledge and improve the ecological sustainability and economic prosperity of organic farming systems. All OFRF-funded research must involve farmers or ranchers in project design and implementation, take place on certified organic land, and include strong education and outreach components. All research results are freely available in OFRF’s online database.

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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.
https://foundationfar.org/ 

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.
http://ofrf.org

Media Contact
Caroline Baptist, OFRF Communications Manager, caroline@ofrf.org

By |2022-06-09T19:02:54+00:00June 9th, 2022|News, Press Release|

USDA Announces Up to $300 Million Investment for Transition to Organic Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Organic Transition Initiative Announced, Organic Production as Climate Strategy

(June 1, 2022) – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a Food System Transformation framework that includes up to $300 million in a new Organic Transition Initiative to provide comprehensive support for farmers to transition to organic production. The new initiative acknowledges that organic production has climate and environmental benefits, allows producers to demand a premium in the marketplace, “and thus take home a greater share of the food dollar,” according to an official USDA statement.

The Organic Transition Initiative will deploy technical assistance, farmer-to-farmer mentoring, direct support through conservation financial assistance and additional crop insurance assistance, and market development support in targeted markets. “All the provisions of the organic transition activities that USDA announced are ones that Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has historically advocated for,” said Brise Tencer, OFRF Executive Director. “In the past year, OFRF has had numerous meetings with USDA officials and provided in-depth written comments on how the agency can best support farmers and ranchers transitioning to organic production systems.”

The USDA’s new initiative supports research findings cited in the OFRF 2022 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) that “farmer-to-farmer networks and mentoring are by far the most effective ways to obtain and share information.” Additionally, finding and developing markets for organic products was a leading non-production challenge among organic farmers surveyed in the 2022 NORA report.

“This is a meaningful first step to truly working towards a just and equitable food system,” said Gordon Merrick, OFRF Policy & Programs Manager. “We at OFRF are excited to see the details of this historic investment into the National Organic Program, and will continue to work with staff from across the USDA to ensure that the research needs of organic producers are met to make this vision a reality.”

More than half of NORA organic survey respondents stated “adaptation to climate change” as a topic of concern in organic agriculture. Approximately 78% of surveyed transitioning farmers cited enhanced resilience to climate change through organic practices as a motivating factor for transitioning to organic certification. “It is extremely encouraging to hear Secretary Vilsack recognize organic systems of production will be a vital piece in our collective effort addressing the climate crisis,” said Merrick.

The Organic Transition Initiative builds on the USDA’s previously announced programs, the Organic Certification and Transition Cost Share program and the Farm and Food Worker Relief Grant Program, both which provided farmer and producer assistance during the pandemic.

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About Organic Farming Research Foundation
Organic Farming Research Foundation 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.
http://www.ofrf.org/

Policy Contact
Gordon Merrick, OFRF Policy & Programs Manager, gordon@ofrf.org

Media Contact
Caroline Baptist, OFRF Communications Manager, caroline@ofrf.org

By |2022-06-03T20:49:27+00:00June 3rd, 2022|News, Press Release|

Organic Farming Research Foundation Releases Latest California Organic Research Agenda

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Needs Assessment Examines Organic Farmer Challenges in Nation’s Most Agriculturally Productive State

(May 31, 2022) – Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has published the new California Organic Research Agenda (CORA), a comprehensive report that examines current needs and challenges of organic farmers and ranchers across California and provides policy and research recommendations to address producer-identified issues. The CORA report is a companion to OFRF’s 2022 National Organic Research Agenda. The national organic survey data boasts responses from over 1,100 producers and 16 listening sessions held across the U.S. Using the California subset of the national survey data, the CORA report highlights the top production and non-production challenges cited by California’s organic farmers and ranchers.

“Organic farming has been historically under-invested in, in terms of research, education and extension,” says OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer. “Both the new California Organic Research Agenda and the 2022 National Organic Research Agenda present incredible feedback directly from organic farmers and provide a compelling roadmap for how to best support the growth of this important sector of agriculture.”

Report findings indicate that managing production costs is a substantial challenge for 71% of producers surveyed, and accessing labor proved to be the leading non-production challenge. An overwhelming number of state producers (76%) expressed substantial need for technical assistance with the organic management of weeds, pests, and disease. In addition to detailing farmer challenges on and off the field, OFRF’s CORA report provides a comparison analysis of farmer responses based on commodity and farming experience. National and state comparisons are also included in the report.

Production of the CORA report was supported in part by the University of California Organic Agriculture Institute (UC OAI), a new statewide program within the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources (UC ANR), as well as the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology.

“One of our primary activities is to generate new research and extension programs focused on organic agriculture,” says Houston Wilson, director of the UC OAI. “The CORA report provides an excellent roadmap to guide and prioritize our efforts, we’re really excited to turn this information into action.”

According to the California Department of Food & Agriculture, state farmers and ranchers were responsible for 40% of all organic agricultural product sales in the country. Data from a 2019 USDA organic survey concludes California has 965,257 acres in organic production, which is approximately 17.5% of all organic acreage in the country. OFRF’s California Organic Research Agenda examines grower needs in the nation’s top-producing state of organic agricultural commodities and specialty crops, paving the way for future research and investment.

“This report will benefit organic growers in California by playing a role as a critical reference to increase public support and develop research projects targeting specific needs that diverse organic growers in the state are facing,” says Joji Muramoto, Ph.D., Assistant Cooperative Extension Organic Production Specialist, University of California.

Each report is available online (www.ofrf.org/research/nora/) free of charge to farmers, policymakers, ag suppliers, seed companies, and the general public.

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About Organic Farming Research Foundation
Organic Farming Research Foundation 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.
http://www.ofrf.org/

Media Contact
Caroline Baptist, Communications Manager
Organic Farming Research Foundation
caroline@ofrf.org

By |2022-06-02T20:22:49+00:00June 2nd, 2022|News, Press Release|

Applications Now Open for Two USDA Programs Geared Toward Organic and Transitioning Producers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(May 17, 2022) – Certified organic and transitioning to organic agricultural producers and handlers can now apply for the Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program (OTECP) and the Organic Certification Cost Share Program (OCCSP). These United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs help producers and handlers cover organic certification cost and other related expenses. Applications are open now and due October 31, 2022.

The two USDA programs cover costs incurred from October 1, 2021, to September 30, 2022. Organic and transitioning agricultural producers should contact their local Farm Service Agency (FSA) office and/or participating State agency to apply. “The FSA, and the USDA broadly, are committed to making sure our Nation’s organic producers and handlers have the tools they need to continue positively shaping our local and regional food systems,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux.

According to OFRF’s 2022 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) report, cost of organic certification ranked third as a top non-production challenges among more than 1,100 organic producers surveyed. “By helping with organic certification costs – long identified as a barrier to certification – USDA has helped producers participate in new markets while investing in the long-term health of their operations,” said Ducheneaux.

The Organic and Transitional Education and Certification Program and the Organic Certification Cost Share Program are important to many organic and transitioning producers. OFRF has put significant effort into advocacy to ensure funding for these programs, such as championing organic provisions included in the 2018 Farm Bill. Most recently, OFRF and allied organizations authored a group letter of support to extend last year’s OTECP application due date which was successfully implemented.

“If someone is considering getting certified, they should definitely look into the program as it can reduce some of the financial burden,” says organic farmer and OFRF Board Chair Bryan Hager. Hager has previously participated in the cost share program to certify his farm, Crager Hager Farm.

More information is available on the OTECP and OCCSP webpages.

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About Organic Farming Research Foundation

Organic Farming Research Foundation 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.

http://www.ofrf.org/

Policy Contact
Gordon Merrick, gordon@ofrf.org

Media Contact
Caroline Baptist, caroline@ofrf.org

By |2022-05-17T18:15:40+00:00May 17th, 2022|News, Press Release|

2022 National Organic Research Agenda and 2022 State of Organic Seed Reports Released

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

As the Organic Industry Booms, Grower Challenges and Seed Needs Loom Large
Two new assessments underscore the need for targeted investments in organic research

(SANTA CRUZ, Calif., March 15, 2022) — Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) are proud to announce the release of the National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) and State of Organic Seed (SOS). The two reports are published every five years to examine organic farming challenges across the U.S., identify research needs, and better understand the organic seed needs of producers.

The organic food market experienced incredible growth in 2020, with sales surpassing $56 billion, a 12 percent increase from 2019. The organic seed market has also grown in recent years due to this demand for organic food as well as a dramatic rise in gardening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reports released today provide comprehensive assessments and recommendations for ensuring the ongoing growth and success of organic farming in the U.S. Specifically, NORA details organic research needs with the goal of informing future investments that support the success of organic farmers and ranchers and those transitioning to organic production. SOS details trends in organic seed sourcing, challenges faced by organic seed producers, public investments in organic plant breeding, and more.

In 2019, OFRF and OSA were jointly awarded funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture’s (NIFA) Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) for the NORA and SOS projects. The following year, OFRF and OSA launched a national survey of organic farmers and ranchers, in addition to a survey targeting transitioning-to-organic operations, to better understand these producers’ challenges, needs, and perspectives. More than 1,100 producers responded to the survey and an additional 100 producers attended 16 listening sessions across the country. Overall, farmer participation reflected the same demographics of those in the U.S. farming sector as documented in the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Services 2019 Organic Survey.

Highlights from the National Organic Research Agenda

“Organic farming has been historically under-invested in, in terms of research, education and extension,” says OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer. “The 2022 National Organic Research Agenda presents incredible feedback directly from organic farmers and provides a compelling roadmap for how to best support the growth of this important sector of agriculture.”

Survey respondents provided input and perspectives on their current organic production systems, including the use of regenerative soil health management practices, water conservation, organic inputs, and organic seed. Findings confirm that organic producers lead the nation in adoption of soil health management and climate-friendly practices. The 2022 NORA also examines current farmer concerns in organic agriculture, farmers’ preferred sources and modes for information-sharing, and summarizes the impacts of COVID on organic producers.

Respondents also shared their production and non-production challenges, which OFRF then analyzed by region, farming experience, and race/ethnicity. This particular NORA compares the experiences of both Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) and White farmers, and reveals BIPOC producers are experiencing many organic production challenges and at a higher rate than their White counterparts.

In addition to identifying gaps in current organic and transitioning-to-organic production challenges, NORA highlights farmer-identified solutions and strategies shared during its focus group discussions. NORA also provides comprehensive recommendations to guide OFRF’s research and policy initiatives. Proposed investments and focus areas include, but are not limited to, technical assistance, organic research, and racial equity programming.

Highlights from State of Organic Seed

The State of Organic Seed report is part of an ongoing project to monitor organic seed systems in the U.S. More than ever, organic seed is viewed as the foundation of organic integrity and an essential component to furthering the principles underpinning the organic movement. Every five years, SOS serves as a progress report and action plan for increasing the organic seed supply while fostering seed grower networks and policies that aim to decentralize power and ownership in seed systems.

The update released today includes substantially more data than the 2016 report, including a deeper examination of organic seed producer/company challenges and their networks. This and other data can be explored through an interactive website where users can sort five data sets by region, crop type, and other identifiers (see: https://organicseed.shinyapps.io/SOSData/).

Organic farmers produce food differently, and that means they need different seed for the crops they grow – seed developed to thrive without synthetic chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and adapted to their local climate and soil conditions. Organic seed is also a regulatory requirement. The USDA’s National Organic Program requires the use of organic seed when commercially available.

Unfortunately, OSA’s recent findings show no meaningful improvement in organic producers using more organic seed compared to five years ago. This lack of progress puts at risk the viability of the organic seed industry and the integrity of the organic label. In particular, the largest organic operations still use relatively little organic seed, and data suggests that organic certifiers’ enforcement of the organic seed requirement could be strengthened.

However, OSA’s data points to progress in other areas, including public investments going toward organic plant breeding and other organic seed research initiatives. More than $39 billion have been invested in these types of projects in the last five years alone. This represents the largest public investment in organic seed systems that OSA has ever recorded. More organic plant breeders are having success releasing new varieties as well.

“The findings are clear, and they underscore the urgent need to modernize organic seed policy, support the success of existing and new seed producers, and confront the dire risks climate change poses to our seed supply,” says OSA’s Kiki Hubbard, lead author of the report.

Each report is available online at www.ofrf.org/research/nora/ and www.stateoforganicseed.org/.

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Download this Press Release (214 KB, PDF)

Media Contacts
Caroline Baptist, Organic Farming Research Foundation, caroline@ofrf.org, (831) 204-8116
Kiki Hubbard, Organic Seed Alliance, kiki@seedalliance.org, (406) 544-8946

About Organic Farming Research Foundation
Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) 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.

http://www.ofrf.org/

About Organic Seed Alliance

Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) works nationally to advance ethical seed solutions to meet food and farming needs in a changing world. Through research, education, and advocacy, OSA fosters organic seed systems that are democratic and just, support human and environmental health, and deliver genetically diverse and regionally adapted seed to farmers.

https://seedalliance.org/

By |2022-03-15T16:47:34+00:00March 15th, 2022|News, Press Release|

OFRF Supports Letter from Congress to Leadership for Ag Research Funding

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(SANTA CRUZ, Calif., October 21, 2021)Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) supports a recent letter delivered to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer that supports agricultural research in the Build Back Better Agenda. Thirty Members of Congress have signed on to this letter to leadership, requesting that the $7.75 billion investment in agricultural climate research, innovation and research infrastructure is included in the House Agriculture Committee’s portion of the budget reconciliation legislation. Approximately $3.64 billion is intended for research facilities, with a substantial portion going toward minority-serving institutions and 1890 Land-Grant Institutions. An additional $200 million would go toward funding the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).

Organic Farming Research Foundation has worked with policy makers and allied organizations to push for legislation that ensures funding goes to organic agriculture research, and for programs that benefit organic farmers and ranchers. OFRF has worked closely with Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) to advance agricultural research and supported his letter to leadership. Earlier this month, OFRF and 130 other organizations and universities delivered a similar letter to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer, requesting they make critical investments that support agricultural research and research facilities. 

“Investing in research is the down payment on agriculture’s ability to advance meaningful climate solutions,” said Brise Tencer, Executive Director for OFRF. “We thank Rep. Jimmy Panetta for his continued championing of ag research, Rep. Adams, and Members of Congress who have signed on to this letter. OFRF encourages Leadership and other Members to protect and prioritize ag research investments that will sustain our communities equitably.”

The letter, released in partnership between Rep. Panetta and Rep. Alma S. Adams (NC-12) to Speaker Pelosi and Leader Schumer, suggests that “doubling agricultural research and development between 2020 and 2030 would reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by over 100 million tons,” citing a recent report from the Breakthrough Institute, a global environmental research center. The research provisions included in the House Agriculture Committee’s budget reconciliation is critical to farmers and ranchers who face climate-induced production challenges firsthand, and will help give them access to information and tools to combat the climate crisis and build resiliency.

“As American farmers have consistently dealt with numerous challenges from an erratic market and extreme weather events to the existing pandemic, American government funding for agricultural research has remained dismally flat for the past fifty years,” said Representative Jimmy Panetta. “By increasing federal funding for agriculture research and development, we can play our part by supporting farmers who not only need it but also deserve it. The letter that I wrote and led seeks to reaffirm Congress’ commitment to farmers who continue to fight climate-induced production challenges and are willing to be part of the solution.”

In addition to Rep. Panetta and Rep. Adams, other Members of Congress who signed onto the letter include: Stacey E. Plaskett, Salud Carbajal, Ro Khanna, Mark Takano, Jim Costa,  Al Lawson, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Kathy Manning, Zoe Lofgren, Ann Kirkpatrick, John Garamendi, Marilyn Strickland, Peter Welch, Ann McLane Kuster, Jim Cooper, Doris Matsui, Josh Harder, Jerry McNerney, Kaiali’i Kahele, Bobby Rush, Angie Craig, Chellie Pingree, Mark Pocan, Julia Brownley, Colin Allred, Jahan Hayes, Alan Lowenthal, and Sanford D. Bishop Jr.

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Supporting Documents
Letter to Congressional Leadership from Rep. Panetta and Rep. Adams
Letter to Congressional Leadership from OFRF and Allied Organizations

About Organic Farming Research Foundation
Organic Farming Research Foundation 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.
http://www.ofrf.org/

Policy Contact
Trevor Findley, Senior Policy Associate, Organic Farming Research Foundation
trevor@ofrf.org

Media Contact
Caroline Baptist, Communications Manager, Organic Farming Research Foundation
caroline@ofrf.org

By |2021-10-21T17:32:44+00:00October 21st, 2021|News, Press Release|

OFRF Tours USDA Agricultural Research Service, Rep. Jimmy Panetta to Co-Sponsor ARA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

(SANTA CRUZ, Calif., August 23, 2021)Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) hosted Representative Jimmy Panetta’s (D-CA, 20th) congressional staffers at the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS) in Salinas, Calif. last week. The site visit focused on the importance of increased investment in organic research and was instrumental in Rep. Panetta’s decision to co-sponsor H.R.2803, the Agricultural Resilience Act (ARA).

OFRF organized the tour of the organic fields at the ARS led by Dr. Eric Brennan, USDA Research Horticulturist and the ARS’ only dedicated organic researcher in the country. California organic farmers in attendance shared their firsthand experience in applying organic research to their farming practices, including composting and cover cropping. Attendees emphasized the importance of investing more research dollars to organic farming practices at the Salinas facility and other ARS locations.

“Central Coast farmers and ranchers have always been on the leading edge of organic production, thanks to their hard work and partnerships with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and organizations like the Organic Farming Research Foundation,” said Congressman Panetta. “As Congressman, my role is to act as the bridge between our communities and Washington, D.C., to advocate for my producers’ needs, and to break through the bureaucracy when they are not getting the answers or funding that they need to keep innovating and growing.”

Rep. Panetta’s decision to co-sponsor the ARA was informed by his careful review of the bill text as well as the work and education provided by OFRF, whose mission has been to advance organic agriculture through scientific research since 1990. The Santa Cruz based nonprofit has invested over $3M and awarded over 350 grants, and provides OFRF-funded research results for free.

“In California and across the country, growers are experiencing the effects of climate change,” said Brise Tencer, Executive Director of OFRF. “We are appreciative of Rep. Panetta’s support for organic research and the Agricultural Resilience Act which will benefit American farmers who are at the forefront of the climate crisis.”

Rep. Panetta sits on the House Committee on Agriculture and is Co-Chair and Founder of the Agriculture Research Caucus. His district, which includes Monterey County, has experienced tremendous growth in organic production. According to the 2020 Monterey County Crop and Livestock Report, the county recorded 132,809 organic acreage — nearly doubling since 2018.

“As we in Congress continue our efforts to put forward funding for infrastructure priorities, I remain committed to elevating the needs of the organic producers I proudly represent, so they can continue to have the tools they need to adapt to climate stressors, invest in soil health, and succeed in the twenty-first century,” said Congressman Panetta.

Rep. Panetta sits on the House Committee on Agriculture and is Co-Chair and Founder of the Agriculture Research Caucus. His district, which includes Monterey County, has experienced tremendous growth in organic production. According to the 2020 Monterey County Crop and Livestock Report, the county recorded 132,809 organic acreage — nearly doubling since 2018.

“As we in Congress continue our efforts to put forward funding for infrastructure priorities, I remain committed to elevating the needs of the organic producers I proudly represent, so they can continue to have the tools they need to adapt to climate stressors, invest in soil health, and succeed in the twenty-first century,” said Congressman Panetta.

Others who attended the meeting included:

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About Organic Farming Research Foundation
Organic Farming Research Foundation 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.
http://www.ofrf.org/

Media Contact
Caroline Baptist, Communications Manager, Organic Farming Research Foundation
caroline@ofrf.org
831-204-8116

Photo Credit: Haley Baron
By |2021-08-26T15:33:28+00:00August 23rd, 2021|News, Press Release|
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