Policy

CSP Boosts Minimum Contract Payment: Signups Open Now

Farmers and ranchers interested in enrolling in the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP) this year have until March 31st to submit their initial applications to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). USDA will enroll 10 million acres of farm and ranch land in the program in 2016, with payments to farmers and ranchers of over three-quarters of a billion dollars over the next five years.

Kathleen Merrigan on List of Influential Women in Agriculture

OFRF Advisory Committee member, Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, was included on Food Tank’s list of 27 influential women in food and agriculture. The announcement was made on January 28th.

Merrigan currently serves as Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, where she leads the GWU Sustainability Collaborative and GWU Food Institute, and serves as Professor of Public Policy.

USDA Announces $18.9 Million for Future Agriculture Scientists and Educators

On January 27, 2016, Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, announced the availability of $18.9 million in competitive grants to support fellowships addressing challenges in nutrition, food security, climate change and other agricultural areas.

Free Webinars from USDA and eOrganics

USDA is hosting a webinar to discuss the request for application to two NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture) organic grant programs: Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions. The webinar will include a brief description of the two programs followed by a Q & A session. 

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).

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.

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.”

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