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. You can read Velez’s full written testimony here.
“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.
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/
Caroline Baptist, OFRF Communications Manager, email@example.com