OFRF Board Member Visits DC to Talk About Need for More Research


Dean McIlvaine of Twin Parks Organic Farm in Wayne County, Ohio, has operated an 850-acre organic grain farm since 1985. He grows organic corn, soybeans, spelt, oats, wheat, rye, clover, and has recently expanded into a rotating cow and calf grass fed beef operation to add to the farm’s diversity. Dean markets the farm’s products nationally and internationally. His father Dale purchased the farm in the mid-70’s and farmed conventionally until Dean transitioned it to an organic operation—following his college dream and his personal beliefs that organic food is healthier and better for the environment.

Dean recently came to Washington DC to talk with elected officials about the benefits of organic agriculture, and the importance of supporting organic research. Dean, along with OFRF’s Policy Associate Michael Stein, attended Senator Rob Portman’s constituent coffee where Dean was able to speak directly to the Senator about the importance of supporting organic farmers. Dean also spoke with Congressman Bob Gibbs’ Chief of Staff. He urged them to sign on to support the Organic Agriculture Research Act HR 2436, to increase funding for the flagship USDA organic research program, the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).

Ohio ranks 7th in the nation in the number of organic farms, with about 575 certified organic operations totaling over $100 million in organic farm sales. In the past few years, Ohio has been seeing double digit growth in organic farmers, certified organic land, and organic sales. Along with this increase has come strong economic growth and development. This growth in organic production is supported by organic agricultural research conducted by Ohio State University, which has received a significant amount of funding from the USDA OREI program to conduct cutting edge scientific research into organic agriculture. 

As a farmer, Dean urged his elected officials to provide organic agriculture with a fair share of research investment and provide Ohio farmers with the tools, information, and resources they need to take advantage of the environmental and economic opportunities of organic agriculture.

Thanks to Dean for coming to Washington, DC and sharing his story and important message with his elected officials. Hearing directly from organic farmer constituents, gives elected officials a better understanding of the positive impacts of organic farming and the importance of investing in organic agriculture.