Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has entered into a 3-year cooperative agreement with USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). OFRF will be tasked with analyzing investments in organic made through two key programs: the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions (ORG) grant program by commodity, region and research topics.

As part of the 3-year agreement, OFRF will compare priorities identified in 2016 and 2021 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA), a report OFRF conducts and releases every five years. NORA contains comprehensive recommendations for future organic agricultural research investment based on surveys and listening sessions with organic farmers, and is used to inform recommendations OFRF puts forth to USDA when prioritizing their programs.

“I am very excited about our partnership with this agency, which is an excellent complement to the many years of advocacy we have done on behalf of programs like OREI and ORG,” said Brise Tencer, Executive Director for OFRF.

OFRF has a long-standing history with the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative. The organization worked closely with former Senator Tom Harkin (IA-5) to advocate for the creation of the OREI in the 2002 Farm Bill, and supplied detailed administrative recommendations on how the program should be set up and implemented. As stated in its recommendations report delivered to USDA and Congress, the OREI program is a “remarkable opportunity to provide practical support to the growing organic industry, and to complement institutionalization of organic standards under the National Organic Program.”

As part of the current 3-year agreement commencing 2021, OFRF will examine findings with the previous OREI-funded Taking Stock report (2002-2014) and analyze investment against National Organic Standards Board research recommendation priorities. An equity review of how well OREI and ORG are serving 1890 historically Black land-grants, 1994 Tribal land-grants, Hispanic-serving institutions, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color NGOs will also be conducted.

OFRF will summarize research findings on top challenges for farmers and assess the effectiveness of involvement with producers and the dissemination of information to stakeholders. Research assessment will be conducted as it relates to climate mitigation, resilience and adaptation. The organization will identify gaps and provide recommendations for organic research priorities which reflect the greatest benefit of producers, communities and the environment.

Additional activities, including the creation and dissemination of info sheets, webinars and public-facing social communications, will be completed as part of a comprehensive external review of OREI and ORG projects.