Blogs | January 2016

Kathleen Merrigan on List of Influential Women in Agriculture

OFRF Advisory Committee member, Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, was included on Food Tank’s list of 27 influential women in food and agriculture. The announcement was made on January 28th.

Merrigan currently serves as Executive Director of Sustainability at George Washington University, where she leads the GWU Sustainability Collaborative and GWU Food Institute, and serves as Professor of Public Policy.

2015 Organic Survey Underway

USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is gearing up to conduct the 2015 Certified Organic Survey, a census of all operations identified as having certified organic production. The results will be released in September 2016.

2016 Organic Agriculture Research Symposium Recap

The Organic Agriculture Research Symposium, presented by OFRF and University of California, Kearney Agricultural Research and Extensnion (KARE) Center, brought together researchers, students, farmers and others from across the US for an informative and interactive day in Pacific Grove, California on January 20th. A pre-conference to the annual Eco-Farm Conference, the symposium featured sessions ranging from soil health and biodiversity to farming and livestock systems, including current and ongoing organic agriculture research findings.

Several themes emerged throughout the day including the need for more a holistic approach to advancing organic agriculture, better dissemination and sharing of research; and, of course, greater investment in research in critical areas such as soil, water, pest and weed management.

The symposium began with a plenary session featuring Andre Leu, IFOAM/Organics International President (shown in the photo with OFRF Executive Director, Brise Tencer) and Mathieu Ngouajio, USDA/NIFA National Program Leader in Cropping Systems.

2016 Organic Agriculture Research Symposium Re-Cap

The Organic Agriculture Research Symposium brought together researchers, students, farmers and others from across the US for an informative and interactive day in Pacific Grove, California this week.

Free Webinars from USDA and eOrganics

USDA is hosting a webinar to discuss the request for application to two NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture) organic grant programs: Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions. The webinar will include a brief description of the two programs followed by a Q & A session. 

2016 OREI and ORG Request for Applications Webinars

USDA will host a webinar on Thursday February 11, 2016, from 1:00-2:30 PM Eastern Time, to discuss the request for application to two NIFA (National Institute of Food and Agriculture) organic grant programs:

Making Farms Safer with Conservation Practices

Co-Managing Farm Stewardship with Food Safety GAPs and Conservation Practices: A Grower’s and Conservationist’s Handbook is now available. The handbook was co-written by Jo Ann Baumgartner, Executive Director of the Wild Farm Alliance, and partially funded through a research grant from OFRF.

A valuable resource for growers and conservationists, the handbook describes many opportunities for making farms safer by reducing pathogen presence with conservation practices and food safety Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs).

Organic Agriculture Research Symposium 2016 Live Broadcast

Plenary and key workshop sessions from the Organic Agriculture Research Symposium (OARS) will be broadcast as webinars. The conference takes place at the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California on Wednesday, January 20, 2016. 

New Businesses Emerge as Demand for Organic Grows

The first fast-food chain certified organic by the USDA is receiving rave reviews. The Organic Coup, conceived by former Costco executive, Erica Welton, opened its first location in Pleasanton, California in 2015. The menu is simple: organic, air-chilled chicken fried in coconut oil and served as a sandwich, wrap or bowl.

In a recent article in Business Insider, Welton said, "We saw this huge shift happening at Costco with people purchasing more and more organic food." While the increased availability of organic ingredients is great, Welton provides a convenient organic option for those times when cooking is out of the question.

New Ruling Provides Exemption from Commodity Checkoff Programs

A new ruling, published by USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service on December 31, 2015, exempts organic farmers and handlers from paying into commodity checkoff programs. USDA has estimated that the expanded exemption would save the organic industry $13.6 million.

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