Organic Blogs

Mark Keating's picture

As Budget Talks Begin, OFRF Advocates for Farmers

          The approach of April 15 typically means spending some quality time reviewing one’s finances, and it is also the season when the federal government begins budget deliberations for the coming fiscal year.  For USDA, the process begins with senior officials appearing before Congressional Agriculture and Appropriations Committees to elaborate upon and support the funding requests included in the

Mark Keating's picture

Research is Spurring Organic Innovation in Wisconsin

 
We’ve posted recently about new funding opportunities through the USDA’s two premier organic research initiatives – the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and the Organic Transitions Program (ORG). OFRF has long made the case that investing in such research is essential for deciphering and disseminating organic agriculture’s rich potential for high quality and quantity production which also sustains the environment and supports family farmers.

Karen Adler's picture

Balancing Conservation and Food Safety on Organic Farms

 

The practices of conserving and fostering biodiversity and natural resources are at the heart of organic farming, and are part of the USDA National Organic Program (NOP). At the same time, ensuring that the food we eat is safe is an obvious priority for farmers and consumers alike. Conflicts that have emerged between these important goals make it critical for organic farmers to understand how they can be co-managed. OFRF is gratified to fund resources that help farmers find this balance.

Mark Keating's picture

More Funding for Organic Farming Research Available from USDA

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Consultant

Great news from Washington, DC last week as USDA released its call for proposals for the 2014 Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) competitive grant program. Thanks to strong grassroots advocacy, the 2014 Fall Bill includes $20 million annually in OREI funding for the next five years and USDA has lost no time in making the first installment available.  The deadline for applications is May 8.

Karen Adler's picture

Home on the Organic Range

Does that title conjure up images of healthy cows grazing peacefully on green rolling hills and ranchers watching baby calves frolic in the grass for the first time? Beyond the idyllic scenes, it takes a lot of hard work and know-how to run a successful organic livestock operation, especially with ever-increasing challenges from drought, climate change, and regulations.

 

Mark Keating's picture

USDA is on the Wrong Course When it Comes to GE Crops

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Consultant

          Today is the deadline for submitting your comments to USDA on the future of “coexistence”, the term the Department uses to describe the working relationship between farmers raising organic and non-GE crops and those who do plant GE varieties.  It is important that you share your informed opinion on this subject with the USDA since it must by law take into account the public comment it receives when formulating future policies.

Mark Keating's picture

USDA wants to hear from you: How Should GMO Seeds Be Regulated?

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Consultant

           USDA is currently requesting public comment on two milestone decisions involving GMO seeds and your voice is needed if we are to reject the status quo and build an organic future for American agriculture. The cutoff periods for public comment are approaching February 24 and March 4.  For too long, USDA has ignored sound science and public opinion by sanctioning the unrestricted release of GMO seeds and their leniency has produced devastating consequences for the environment, rural communities and family farmers.

Mark Keating's picture

GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR ORGANIC LIVESTOCK AND CROP PRODUCERS

    By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Consultant

     There is another organic research victory to celebrate beyond the $100 million over five years allocated to the Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) in the new Farm Bill. The USDA announced this week that it is accepting applications for the 2014 Organic Transitions (ORG) program to fund the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices.  While limited to a total of $4 million for the program and an upper limit of $500,000 for individual projects, ORG grants are highly effective at bringing together agricultural professionals – primarily research scientists and extension educators – with working organic farmers to explore practical solutions to common production challenges and constraints.

Karen Adler's picture

Sowing the Seeds of Organic Integrity

At the recent EcoFarm Conference in California, I attended a session called “Keeping GMOs out of Organic Food and Farms.” The panel included representatives from an organic food company, an environmental advocacy group, the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), and an organic dairy. At a time when the clamor for organic food is greater than ever, these activists, along with thousands of people involved in organic food and farming all over the world, are concerned about the growing threat of GMO (genetically modified organism) contamination.

One thing is clear: we are at a crucial tipping point regarding the future of organic juxtaposed against the genetic engineering of our food supply. And on the frontline are seeds—the very basis of life. As Vandana Shiva says, “Seed is created to renew, to multiply, to be shared, and to spread. Seed is life itself.”

Mark Keating's picture

Action Alert - Farm Bill: Organic Victories Tempered by More of the Same Industrial Ag

By Mark Keating, OFRF Policy Advisor

UPDATE 1/29/14 : Victory for Organic Farmers:  House passes new Farm Bill; Senate vote expected within days.

House and Senate negotiators have agreed upon on a new five year Farm Bill which significantly increases support for key organic initiatives including the National Organic Certification Cost Share Program (NOCCSP), Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and the Organic Data Initiative (ODI).  The bill, which must still pass the House and Senate, also contains $5 million to modernize the USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) and increases funding for local, beginning and sustainable agriculture programs including $150 million over five years for the Farmers Market Promotion Program.  The bill also authorizes the Secretary of Agriculture to consider the establishment of a dedicated Organic Research and Promotion Program, should the community elect to pursue one.  These groundbreaking victories, however, must be weighed against the billions of dollars which this proposal commits to the failed industrial agriculture model.

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