Organic Blogs

Karen Adler's picture

Putting the Earth Back in Earth Day

“Essentially, all life depends upon the soil... There can be no life without soil and no soil without life; they have evolved together.” --Charles E. Kellogg /USDA Yearbook of Agriculture, 1938

How often do you think about the earth beneath your feet?

If you are a farmer or soil scientist, it’s many times a day. Otherwise, probably not very often, since our soil is something that most of us take for granted. But did you know that half of our topsoil has been lost in the last 150 years, and we’re now losing it at rates 10 to 40 times faster than it can naturally be replenished? Currently, 40% of the soil used for agriculture throughout the world is classified as degraded or seriously degraded.

Mark Keating's picture

Where Will Vermont’s GMO-labeling Bill Leave the Organic Brand?

     Proposals to require labeling of food products containing GMO ingredients are sprouting up in state legislatures and public referendums across the country. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are GMO labeling bills currently under consideration in 29 states and after years of stalemate, the tide may be turning in their favor.  While mandatory GMO labeling would be a milestone affirmation of our right to know where our food comes from, it also has genuine limitations when measured against organic certification.

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.

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