General

OFRF Announces New Process & Schedule for Next Grant Round

July 15, 2018—With demand for their research grants growing every year, OFRF is modifying its grant funding process to include a Letter of Intent prior to the submission of a full proposal.

“We are thrilled at the level of interest in our grants and the impact our funding has made over the years." says Diana Jerkins, OFRF’s Research Director. “Starting the cycle a little earlier with a Letter of Intent will help us prioritize the projects that most closely match our funding priorities." 

Check Out our New Landing Page

We may not have all the answers but we think we’re off to a good start with our new landing page called Why Organic?. The page is designed to streamline access to the latest organic news, research, farmer stories, resources, and more.

Register Now for Free Webinar Series on Soil Health

OFRF and eOrganic invite you to attend a series of free webinars exploring the most recent research on soil health practices and how organic growers can build healthy soils on their operations.

The webinars provide practical guidelines for growers, in-depth analysis of research outcomes, and an opportunity to get your questions answered. Response to the first two in the series has been overwhemingly positive. 

“I am new to farming and have struggled to grasp some of the concepts of building and maintaining good soil. The 'light' went on while watching this webinar. Thanks so much! I am looking forward to the next webinars on this subject.”

“The seminar was great! I plan to share it with organic vegetable demo garden staff as well as general public at our farmer’s market plant clinics.”

“I have been working with cover crops, composting, and other soil health practices for years. I felt the webinar was very informative and well paced.”

OFRF Publishes Soil Educational Guide

OFRF is pleased to announce the publication of its new educational guide titled, Soil Microbial Interactions and Organic Farming. This resource explores the role of microorganisms, like bacteria, in creating healthy soil ecosystems that benefit organic farms. Microorganisms help create healthy soil, remove soil contaminants through bioremediation, and improve plant health by controlling weeds and plant disease.
 
In 2015, OFRF surveyed organic farmers to find out about their most pressing challenges and research needs. They rated research and information on soil health as the highest priority. The guide addresses this need and provides information for organic farmers on how to build healthy soils through incorporating the benefits of a diverse soil microbiome. 
 
Download the guide here.

Taking the Next Steps for Organic in the Farm Bill

In a sweeping show of bipartisanship, the Senate voted 86-11 to pass their version of the Farm Bill. With the House passing a different version of the bill without Democratic support, lawmakers will meet later this summer to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate bills. With the current Farm Bill set to expire on September 30, 2018 there is a lot riding on this process. 

Here is a comparison of some of the organic provisions.

House of Representatives Passes a Farm Bill

While the House Farm Bill was wholly opposed by Democrats, who were joined by some Republicans in their opposition, the House of Representatives passed their version of the Farm Bill, by a vote of 213-211 with two Republicans and two Democrats not voting.

The U.S. Senate is currently working on their text for the Farm Bill (read about it here), which is different than the House version. If the House and Senate pass different bills, the differences will be parsed out in conference committee, and if approved, will go to the President to be signed into law.

Senate Agriculture Committee Passes Farm Bill with Big Wins for Organic

June 13, 2018 - Today the Senate Agriculture Committee voted to favorably report the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (S. 3042), the Senate Farm Bill, out of Committee by a vote of 20-1. Senator Grassley (R-IA) voted against the bill.

Farm Bill Draft Includes Much Needed Investment in Organic Research and Education

June 8, 2018—We are extremely excited to share the news that the Senate Agriculture Committee’s Farm Bill draft, released today, includes a much needed increased investment in organic research and education.

New OFRF Grant Examines Biosolarization for Weed Control

As the negative health and environmental effects of chemical soil fumigation become more apparent, there is a critical need for safe, alternative methods of soil fumigation to control weeds. To help address this need, OFRF has awarded a grant to Dr. Ashraf Tubeileh at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California to study the effect of biosolarization and cover crops on weeds and soil-borne pathogens.

A Visit with Simple Gifts Farm

We recently had the opportunity to talk with OFRF Board President Jeremy Barker Plotkin of Simple Gifts Farm in Amherst, Massachusetts. Jeremy and his team are stewards of the North Amherst Community Farm (NACF), community-owned land preserved in perpetuity for farming. They are working to ensure the land remains an organic community farm, a wildlife corridor, and a place for local residents to enjoy nature and walking trails. They run the farm as an ecological unit, integrating vegetable crops and livestock, and connecting the community with their food supply. They also run an apprenticeship program to train the next generation of organic farmers.

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