October 7, 2019 – The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) are pleased to be among the recipients of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) awards announced last week. The grant was awarded through NIFA’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).
Through the competitive grant process, the organizations have been jointly awarded funding for their proposal titled A National Agenda for Organic and Transitioning Research. This funding will allow OFRF and OSA to combine their considerable expertise in conducting national surveys of organic producers to put forth an updated and comprehensive roadmap for future research investments.
“OFRF is committed to advancing the research needed to meet the current challenges of organic farming, with the goal of creating a more resilient and ecologically sustainable agricultural system,” said OFRF’s Executive Director, Brise Tencer. “We are honored by OREI’s investment in this important work and believe this collaboration with OSA will both increase grower participation and strengthen the impact of our updated findings.”
OFRF’s 2016 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) report is a frequently cited resource that has helped ensure research funding is relevant and responsive to the needs of organic producers, while also identifying gaps where additional investment is necessary.
“With demand for organic products continuing to outpace domestic production,” Tencer explains, “the organic industry needs more research that helps existing organic farmers scale up, diversify, and increase profitability, and also encourages more farmers and ranchers to transition to sustainable organic practices that are better for the environment and people.”
“Organic farmers produce food differently, and that means they need different seed for the crops they grow—seed developed to thrive without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and adapted to their local climate and soil conditions,” says Kiki Hubbard, who co-leads OSA’s State of Organic Seed (SOS) project.
SOS is an ongoing project that monitors the status of organic seed in the U.S. and provides a roadmap for increasing the diversity, quality, and integrity of organic seed available to farmers.
“Understanding the research needs of organic farmers, including in the area of seed and plant breeding, is critical to the ongoing growth and success of organic agriculture,” Hubbard adds. “OSA is privileged to have the opportunity to partner with OFRF on this critical project with strong support from the USDA’s OREI program.”
OFRF, OSA, and a broad coalition of organic champions were instrumental in securing an increase in federal funding for organic research from $20M to $50M in the 2018 Farm Bill. This increase provides an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to tackle the challenges that inhibit the growth of organic production. Updated NORA and SOS reports will ensure this increased funding is allocated in a way that reflects the needs of organic farmers and ranchers.