Why Organic - News

Historic Permanent Funding for Organic Research Secured in Farm Bill

December 11, 2018—Thanks to the hard work of OFRF and a broad coalition of organic champions, we have secured historic wins for organic agricultural research in the 2018 Farm Bill, which will provide $395 million for organic agriculture research and education over the next 10 years. This milestone is the biggest win for organic farming in the Farm Bill in decades, securing permanent funding for organic research at USDA.

Senate Holds Hearing for the Chief Scientist at USDA

Even in the midst of a tense Farm Bill negotiation, the Senate Agriculture Committee convened to hear from the nominees for key positions at USDA. The nominees are, Mindy Brashears for Under Secretary of Agriculture for Food Safety, Naomi C. Earp for Assistant Secretary of Agriculture for Civil Rights, and Scott Hutchins, for Under Secretary of Agriculture for Research, Education, and Economics also known as the “Chief Scientist” at USDA.

OFRF Board Member Heather Darby Receives USDA OREI Grant

Until recently, organic milk was one of the fastest growing sectors in organic agriculture. However; with prices declining, interest in transitioning to grass-fed production methods is increasing. Expansion in this market has been particularly significant in the Northeast where farmers face challenging climate conditions that complicate cropping of traditional feed crops such as corn silage and therefore encourage more grass-based systems.

USDA Organic Research Program Stalled Until New Farm Bill Passes

With the expiration of the 2014 Farm Bill on September 30, 2018, Congress allowed a wide range of important food and farm programs to also expire. These programs lost their authority to operate, and in some cases their funding. Among the programs thrown into limbo by this delayed Farm Bill is the main competitive organic research grant program at USDA, the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). 

OFRF at SupplySide West

SupplySide West is coming up in Las Vegas November 6th through the 10th. OFRF's Executive Director, Brise Tencer, will be speaking on "The State of Organic" on Friday, November 9th at 11:30 as part of Esca Bona at SupplySide West Education, a platform to engage and serve companies working to create a better food system.

New Study Associates Organic Diet with Reduced Risk of Cancer

A new study reported in the New York Times on October 22nd examines the relationship between an organic food-based diet and cancer risk. Funded entirely by public and government funds at the Center of Research in Epidemiology and Statistics Sorbonne Paris Cite, researchers collected data for five years on the consumption frequency and dietary intake of 68,946 French adults, primarily women.

New Webinar Series on Soil Health in the Western U.S.

Please join OFRF and eOrganic for a series of eight free webinar trainings on organic farming and soil health in the Western U.S. The webinars will target agricultural professionals including Extension personnel, other agency personnel, and agricultural consultants in an effort to increase expertise in organic practices that promote soil health.

More than 1,100 Scientists Oppose USDA Agency Moves

(October 1, 2018)—More than 1,100 scientists and economists from across the country sent a letter to congressional leaders today, opposing the Trump administration’s proposal to reorganize and relocate key research branches at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The proposed changes threaten scientific integrity at the Economic Research Service (ERS) and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and could further marginalize their critical research from policymaking, according to the letter. If Secretary Perdue’s plans are realized, the ERS and NIFA will be relocated from their current offices in Washington, DC, and the ERS will be transferred to the aegis of the Office of the Chief Economist, which reports to Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue.

Passage of New Farm Bill Unlikely to Meet Deadline

Congress has less than a week to pass a new Farm Bill before the current law expires on September 30th. With the Ag Committee negotiators far apart on major issues, the chances of a Farm Bill getting done on time are slim.

The last time this happened, in 2012, Congress passed short term extensions to keep Farm Bill programs running. This time, an extension of current law isn't being considered yet. Both Senate Agriculture Chairman Pat Roberts and ranking member Debbie Stabenow have suggested an extension may not be necessary until the end of 2018 because much of the existing policies would not revert to decades-old law until the start of 2019.

Expo East – Braving the Storm

By Tim Schultz, Vice President of Research & Development for Lundberg Family Farms and OFRF Board Member

This year’s Natural Products Expo East in Baltimore began with a flurry of excitement as Hurricane Florence headed for the Southeast Coast of the United States. Early in the week, the Governor of Maryland declared a state of emergency in anticipation of potentially devastating wind, rain, and storm surge. By the time the show opened, it was pretty clear the storm and its horrendous damage, would be focused much further south, and the show continued on, though many registrants decided not to brave the elements.

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