Organic News

Vitalis Celebrates 25thAnniversary Field Day

I had the pleasure of attending the Vitalis Organic Seed Field Day in San Juan Bautista, California on Thursday, August 15th. The company was founded in The Netherlands in 1994 and is a division of Enza Zaden, the global leader in organic seed production and breeding. All Vitalis varieties are certified organic and they work closely with regional organic seed dealers to serve the needs of open field, high tunnel, and greenhouse growers. It was interesting to learn about which traits are desirable for different regions and types of production. The future success of organic agriculture depends on breeders like Vitalis who work to develop new varieties for organic and low-external-input systems. 

Confused about Cover Crops? You’re Not Alone

Cover cropping is an important practice for building soil health, protecting the soil surface from erosion and compaction, and suppressing weeds and pests. Truly sustainable agriculture relies on maintaining effective vegetative cover of the soil, and the National Organic Standards require certified organic producers to include cover crops in their crop rotations.

New Training Program Offers Organic Basics for Beginning Farmers

August 13, 2019 - OFRF is excited to introduce the first learning module, Organic Soil Health Management, in its free online training program for beginning farmers, existing organic farmers, and farmers in transition to organic production. The content throughout the training program focuses on organic specialty crop production in California. 
 
“Healthy soils are the foundation of a successful organic farm, but determining which soil building practices will work best in a particular farming system can be challenging,” explains OFRF’s Education and Research Program Manager, Lauren Snyder. “The goal of this training program is to provide reliable information in one place and to highlight resources that help farmers assess which practices make the most sense for their system.”  

OFRF and FFAR Award Two New Grants that Tackle Soil Health Challenges

SANTA CRUZ AND WASHINGTON D.C. (August 1, 2019) - Soil health is a critical component of organic farm management. The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR) are funding two soil health research projects that examine how diversification practices control weeds and increase yields. OFRF and FFAR funded these two projects as part of a larger initiative to support soil health research and promote environmental sustainability. A grant to Dr. Jed Eberly at Montana State University was announced earlier this year.

OFRF Grantee to Examine Barriers to Adoption

May 21, 2019–OFRF has awarded a grant to Aysha Peterson at UC Santa Cruz to examine barriers to adoption of plant-based nutrient management strategies among organic, socially disadvantaged farmers in Salinas, California. Peterson hopes to bridge the gap between research and implementation by using qualitative data to answer questions about adoption and decision-making processes.

OFRF Accepting Letters of Intent for 2020 Grant Funding

July 1, 2019—OFRF is pleased to announce the Fall 2019 Request for Letters of Intent is now open for 2020 grant funding. The program is open to all applicants residing and conducting research in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. The deadline to submit Letters of Intent (LOI) is Friday, August 16, 2019. Successful applicants will be notified in fall 2019 and invited to submit a full proposal.

OFRF Talks Climate Change with U.S. Secretary of Agriculture at Town Hall Meeting

United States Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue met with agriculture stakeholders at a Town Hall meeting in Watsonville, California on Friday, June 28th. He was joined by Representatives Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) and Doug LaMalfa (CA-01).

Help for Delayed Planting

Late snow and lots of rain have prevented or delayed planting on many farms. USDA provides financial assistance to producers of noninsurable crops when low yields, loss of inventory, or prevented planting occur due to natural disasters. Learn about coverage, technical and financial assistance, and more at farmers.gov.

OFRF offers several resources to help farmers and ranchers manage risk. All resources are available to download for free. Print quantities may be available upon request.

Fresh From the Fields: Beyercrest, LLC

Rory Beyer was raised on the dairy farm his parents have owned since 1973. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a degree in Animal Science, he returned to the farm and several years later, made the transition to organic production. Today, the Beyers farm 385 acres, raising dairy, beef, corn, and small grains. Since going organic, Rory says the cows are healthier and producing more and, in seven years, they’ve seen their soil organic matter (SOM) go from 1.7% to 4.4% as a result of soil building practices such as cover cropping, managed rotational grazing, diverse rotations, and the use of organic soil amendments. 

OFRF Executive Director Testifies in DC

June 12, 2019, Washington, DC - This spring, flooding left farm fields across the Midwest under water. Meanwhile, growers across the Southeast are continuing the hard work to recover from devastating hurricanes and tropical storms. In California, farmers and ranchers are still dealing with the aftermath of last year’s record-breaking wildfires intensified by increasingly warm and dry weather. 

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