New USDA Research Foundation Appoints Long-Time Organic Advocate to the Board

Brise Tencer's picture

By Brise Tencer, Executive Director of OFRF

Noting that “every dollar invested in agricultural research creates $20 in economic activity,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the formation of a new foundation that will create public-private partnerships to fund agriculture, food, and nutrition research. Authorized by Congress as part of the 2014 Farm Bill, the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research will seek private donations in order to fund research activities that focus on problems of national and international significance.

To what degree the new foundation will support organic farming research is not yet known, but the appointment of Nancy Creamer to the new foundation’s initial 15-member Board of Directors is reason to think that organic research will be on the radar.

Dr. Creamer has led the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS) at North Carolina State University for 14 years. CEFS includes an organic research unit that conducts field research under certified organic conditions. Over the years, the organic research unit has generated a portfolio of useful information for North Carolina organic farmers, including work on cover cropping, weed management, organic soybean and hay production, and organic no-till. Dr. Creamer was one of the first researchers in the U.S. to customize tillage equipment for undercutting cover crops. She also established a summer internship program at CEFS patterned on the apprenticeship program at the University of California Santa Cruz, the nation’s oldest university-based organic farmer and gardener training program.

OFRF is proud of the fact that Dr. Creamer received an OFRF research grant early in her career for the project Summer Cover Crops and Crop Mixtures as Weed Suppressive Mulches in Vegetable Production Systems, awarded in 1995. Dr. Creamer notes that this was the first grant she received after she started working in North Carolina. She also served on the steering committee of the Scientific Congress on Organic Agricultural Research (SCOAR) during the entire time it was convened, from 2000 to 2003. SCOAR created a peer-to-peer environment for farmers and researchers to discuss research priorities for organic agriculture. These were ultimately presented in OFRF’s 2007 National Organic Research Agenda.

With the stated mission of the new foundation to fund research that covers key areas of agriculture, OFRF is hopeful that organic agriculture will be appropriately represented.

Read more about the Foundation for Food and Agricultural Research, including a full list of initial board members.  

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