Organic News

National Organics Leaders Join Organic Farming Research Foundation Advisory Team

March 12, 2015 – Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is pleased to announce the appointment of five extraordinary leaders of the organic community to its inaugural Advisory Team. The newly-organized panel includes national leaders with deep roots in organic policy, regulation, research, education and philosophy, as well as hands-on organic farming experience.

Our new Advisory Team includes Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Dr. Frederick L. Kirschenmann, Dr. Chuck Benbrook, Dr. Nancy Creamer, and Ferd Hoefner.

Throughout their influential careers all have been steadfast friends of OFRF, and our mission of advancing the science and practice of organic farming. As advisors to OFRF, they bring deep expertise and guidance as our Foundation works toward the next phase of building and strengthening our programs.

USDA Announces $91.5 Million for Organic, Specialty Crop and Citrus Research and Extension

March 10, 2015 - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced the availability of $91.5 million in grants for agricultural research and extension services, with funding targeted toward organic, specialty and citrus crops. The grants will be funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI), and the Citrus Disease Research and Extension Program (CDRE), a subset of SCRI.

Of the total, $17.5 million will be available through OREI, $49 million will be available through SCRI, and CDRE will have $25 million to disburse.  

The OREI grants will prioritize biological, physical and social science research, including economics, aimed at helping certified organic growers and processors to grow and market high-quality organic products. They will also support extension services and education, with the goal of delivering practical, research-based information to organic growers across the U.S.

Eat an Organic Pineapple, Support Organic Farming Research!

March 2, 2015 - Dole has launched a month-long sales promotion that will contribute $1 to Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) for every box of DOLE®Organic pineapples sold in the U.S. and Canada from March 1-31. The promotion benefits not only OFRF and Dole’s network of organic producers, but also millions of winter-weary North Americans in need of a tropical pick-me-up.

“Is it too cold to have some friends over for organic pina colodas?” said OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer. “I think not!”

Dole, founded in 1899 and one of the world’s largest producers and marketers of fresh fruit and vegetables, is also a leader in sustainable and organic production. Dole began offering organic bananas in 2001, and has since expanded into organic pineapples, vegetables and salad mixes.  

USDA Announces $4 million for Organic Research, Extension and Alternatives

February 27, 2015 - The US Department of Agriculture’s Organic Transitions Program (ORG) is seeking applications for $4 million in research grants for fiscal 2015. This year’s grants continue to prioritize environmental services provided by organic farming systems, including soil conservation and climate change mitigation. New priorities for 2015 include development of educational tools for Extension personnel and other agricultural professionals who advise producers on organic practices, and the development of alternatives to substances recommended for removal from the National Organic Program’s list of allowed substances.

OFRF Research Partners Analyze Organic Fertilizers for Plant Health, Nutrient Levels

February 18, 2015 - Cyanobacteria are versatile organisms, able to generate oxygen, pull nitrogen from the air, and survive in virtually every ecosystem on the planet - all on a diet of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water. Researchers at Colorado State University are now putting these solar-powered microbes, commonly known as blue-green algae, to work producing high-quality organic fertilizer.

A research team led by Jessica Davis, Ph.D., has shown that cyanobacteria can be grown and transformed into high-quality liquid bio-fertilizer on working farms, and that greenhouse vegetables grown with this fertilizer contain high levels of beta-carotene, a key nutrient.

Now, with financial support from Organic Farming Research Foundation, Davis’s team is broadening its analysis of organic fertilizers, aiming to provide farmers with solid data in an area that still relies heavily on industry advertising and anecdotal evidence.

USDA Organic Research Tackles Vital Issues, Report Says

February 18, 2015 - The US Department of Agriculture, which has invested in agricultural research since the late 1800s, only began including organic-specific projects in its massive research portfolio in 2002. But since that date, the agency has plowed more than $142 million into 188 organic farming studies, successfully targeting issues of vital concern to organic farmers, according to a preliminary analysis conducted by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF).

Since 2002, USDA funding has produced “a substantial body of research into priority production constraints and other vital issues for organic, transitioning-organic, and sustainable farmers and ranchers,” according to OFRF analyst Mark Schonbeck, who said he was inspired by the “extent, ingenuity and level of farmer involvement” in the agency-funded research.

OFRF Hosts Organic Research Listening Session at OARS Symposium

February 18, 2015 - The staff at OFRF is hard at work updating the National Organic Research Agenda for 2015, and will host its fourth listening session of the winter farming conference season Feb. 26, at the Organic Agriculture Research Symposium (OARS) in LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

Organic farmers, ranchers and researchers are encouraged to contribute information about their needs and challenges, and their thoughts about priority areas of future organic research. OFRF has conducted productive listening sessions this year at the EcoFarm, Organicology and Virginia Biological Farming Association conferences. OFRF will continue to gather input from the organic community with future sessions, and an online survey to be distributed this spring to every certified organic farm in the U.S.

OFRF at Expo West – Helping Farmers Meet the Demand for Organic

February 18, 2015 – The demand for organic food in the U.S. has outstripped our domestic supply for at least a decade – what are the factors preventing American farmers from tapping into this fast-growing market?

Join OFRF Executive Director Brise Tencer and a panel of industry experts to discuss the barriers to growing organic, and what can be done to increase the numbers and success of organic farmers. Tencer will be joined by organic farmer Doug Crabtree, of Vilicus Farms; Dag Falk, organic program manager at Nature’s Path; Beth Robertson-Martin, sourcing lead for organic, natural and non-GMO ingredients at General Mills; and Washington State University grain researcher Kevin Murphy, for a panel discussion “Helping Farmers Meet Demand for the Growing Organic Market,” March 5, 3 p.m., immediately following OFRF’s 18th annual luncheon at the Natural Products Expo West trade show.

USDA Announces $30 Million to Fight Citrus Greening

February 13, 2015 – The US Department of Agriculture took aim at Citrus Greening this week with $30 million in funding for 22 projects to help citrus growers battling the devastating bacterial disease, spread by the invasive Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP).

Food Security Grants Target Regionally-Adapted Seeds and Breeds, Sustainable Agriculture

February 5, 2015 - The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) this week announced more than $16 million in Food Security grant funding, with an emphasis on sustainability and regionally-adapted seeds and breeds – areas of particular interest to the organic farming research community.