2016 OREI and ORG Request for Applications Webinars

USDA will host a webinar on Thursday February 11, 2016, from 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern Time, to discuss the request for application to two NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture) organic grant programs:

Making Farms Safer with Conservation Practices

Co-Managing Farm Stewardship with Food Safety GAPs and Conservation Practices: A Grower’s and Conservationist’s Handbook is now available. The handbook was co-written by Jo Ann Baumgartner, Executive Director of the Wild Farm Alliance, and partially funded through a research grant from OFRF.

A valuable resource for growers and conservationists, the handbook describes many opportunities for making farms safer by reducing pathogen presence with conservation practices and food safety Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).

Organic Agriculture Research Symposium 2016 Live Broadcast

Plenary and key workshop sessions from the Organic Agriculture Research Symposium (OARS) will be broadcast as webinars. The conference takes place at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California on Wednesday, January 20, 2016. 

New Ruling Provides Exemption from Commodity Checkoff Programs

A new ruling, published by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service on December 31, 2015, exempts organic farmers and handlers from paying into commodity checkoff programs. USDA has estimated that the expanded exemption would save the organic industry $13.6 million.

Organic Agriculture Research Symposium Scholarships

The Organic Farming Research Foundation is pleased to announce the opportunity to apply for a scholarship to attend the Organic Agriculture Research Symposium, a pre-conference on January 20, 2016 at the EcoFarm Conference in Asilomar, CA. Students, farmers and researchers who would like to apply for a scholarship of up to $350 should submit a letter of interest to by January 10th.

Organic Seed Key to Healthy Productive Crops

An article in Modern Farmer discussing the importance of organic seed to the future of agriculture, featured several organic researchers and farmers whose work provided the ingredients for a dinner in St. Helena, California benefitting Seed Matters. 

Seed Matters, an initiative of the Clif Bar Family Foundation, is working to improve the viability and availability of organic seed to ensure healthy, nutritious and productive crops. Their goal is to take the whole farm-to-table movement one layer deeper—from seed-to-farm-to-table. Matthew Dillon, who oversees the Seed Matters initiative, emphasized the importance of organic methods, “Seeds created in a conventional, chemically dependent environment yield far less resilient plants.”

Soil Health Institute Announced in Washington

To ensure that soil continues to be a vital natural resource for generations to come, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation and Farm Foundation announced the formation of the Soil Health Institute at an event on December 3, 2015.

USDA Announces Funding for Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Programs

On December 10, 2015, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the availability of $17.6 million in funding to support research and outreach activities that will help growers, producers and processors find innovative ways to improve organic agriculture. The grants are being funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), a program that is administered by USDA’s National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

World Leaders Look to Curb Climate Change with Carbon Farming

At the 2015 UN Climate Change Conference in Paris this week, carbon farming became a major component of the global response to the climate crisis. Commenting on the decision, André Leu, President of IFOAM - Organics International, an organization that promotes organic agriculture and carbon farming worldwide, said, “This is a game changer because soil carbon is now central to how the world manages climate change.”

Retailers Turn Down Genetically-Modified Salmon, GMO Labeling Debate Continues

Even though AquAdvantage salmon, the first major genetically modified animal product deemed safe for human consumption by the FDA, won’t be available for two years, several major retailers have already taken a stand. Among others, Costco, Safeway, Trader Joe’s and Target have said they will not sell the GMO fish produced by Massachusetts-based company, AquaBounty.


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