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.

“I am excited to bring a broad federal agricultural policy and research policy perspective to the vital work of OFRF in the organic research field,” said Hoefner, Policy Director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). “OFRF has long been a key NSAC member group and leader in our research policy endeavors and I welcome the opportunity to continue to grow that relationship.”

Dr. Creamer, Distinguished Professor at North Carolina State University, lauded OFRF’s decades of work advancing organics.

“OFRF has a long history of moving the science and practice of organic agriculture forward,” Creamer said. “From funding scientific research, to impacting policy and funding streams, to helping legitimize organic agriculture with the research community and at Land Grant Universities, it's been an impressive body of work.”

Executive Director Brise Tencer unveiled the new advisory group Thursday, under sunny skies at OFRF’s 18th annual luncheon at Expo West, the traditional kick-off to the Natural Products Expo West trade show at the Anaheim Convention Center.

“We are honored and so appreciative to have leaders of this caliber willing to work with us and support our mission,” Tencer said. “The breadth and depth of knowledge and experience our advisors bring is absolutely world-class.”

OFRF’s advisory team members are:

Dr. Kathleen Merrigan is Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, where she leads the GWU Sustainability Collaborative and Food Institute, and serves as Professor of Public Policy. From 2009-2013, Dr. Merrigan was U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prior to serving at the USDA, Merrigan wrote the law establishing U.S. national standards for organic food, and also served on OFRF’s board of directors.

Dr. Frederick L. Kirschenmann is a Distinguished Fellow for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture at Ohio State University, and President of Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York. A longtime international leader in sustainable agriculture, Kirschenmann is a professor in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Iowa State University, and manages his family’s 1,800-acre organic farm in North Dakota.

Dr. Chuck Benbrook is a Research Professor for the Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources (CSANR) at Washington State University. Dr. Benbrook has developed a variety of analytical systems for quantifying food quality and safety, and the impacts of agricultural technology and policy. He served as Executive Director of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture from 1984-1990, and as Chief Scientist for The Organic Center from 2004-2012.

 Ferd Hoefner is Policy Director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), and has served as the group’s senior Washington, D.C. representative since 1988. NSAC is the leading voice for sustainable agriculture in the federal policy arena, joining together the voices of more than 60 grassroots organizations from all regions of the country. Hoefner has worked on each of the omnibus farm bills from 1977 to 2014, and has been instrumental in launching an array of innovative federal programs serving organic agriculture.

Dr. Nancy Creamer is a Distinguished Professor of Sustainable Agriculture and Community Based Food Systems at NC State University, and Director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems.  Dr. Creamer was a member of the USDA Specialty Crops Advisory Committee, and has served as a consultant to the European Commission on funding and evaluation of European-wide agriculture organic research activities.  She was appointed by the North Carolina Governor to the legislated NC Sustainable Local Foods Advisory Council in 2010, and was Vice Chair of the Council through 2013.  Dr. Creamer was recently appointed by Secretary Vilsack as Board member for the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research.

by Maria Gaura - OFRF