The Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University recently published The Critical To-Do List for Organic Agriculture, which features 46 recommendations that would improve the state of organic agriculture in the United States. OFRF Executive Director, Brise Tencer, and consultants Mark Schonbeck and Ferd Hoefner, were acknowledged for their advice and support in helping formulate the 46 recommendations.
While policy-based improvements can be time consuming, the majority of recommendations in the report could be accomplished administratively by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), meaning the USDA can make the changes without any additional input from Congress.
Among the 46 recommendations are a number of priorities that the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) has prioritized and advocated for, including recommendations to:
(1) develop a national organic plan;
(2) implement a USDA-wide organic agenda;
(3) take a whole of government approach to organic agriculture;
(4) restore the organic advisor to the Secretary;
(7) address racial justice and social equity;
(12) increase organic research;
(23) reinvest in the Organic Transitions program;
(25) restore cost-share funding;
(33) elevate organic in climate policy;
(35) promote ecosystem services;
(37) increase conservation support;
(39) fund research on breeds and seeds adapted to climate change;
(40) identify organic as climate smart;
(43) improve crop insurance tools;
(44) incent recoupling crops and livestock; and
(46) restore the field buffer initiative.
For some recommendations–such as implementing a USDA-wide organic agenda–OFRF has already developed and shared more specific, agency-by-agency recommendations with the USDA. In addition, in an April 2021 letter to Secretary Vilsack, OFRF specifically asked the Secretary to implement several of the recommendations, such as restoring the organic advisor to the Secretary, increasing organic research at USDA to match organic’s six percent market share, restoring cost-share funding, and increasing conservation support.
We look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack and his staff to implement these changes in the coming years!