Organic Week Kicks Off with D.C. Briefing

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OFRF, in partnership with the Organic Center and the House Organic Caucus, held a Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C. May 22nd to educate members of Congress on the importance of organic research. At the briefing, Kelliann Blazek, Legislative Assistant to Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME), discussed the bipartisan legislation Pingree introduced earlier this month. If passed, the Organic Agriculture Research Act would raise funding for USDA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), from $20 million to $50 million annually.

Brise Tencer, OFRF’s Executive Director, shared information about the research needs of organic farmers around the country and provided analysis of the OREI investment to date. Together, the results from OFRF’s evaluation of USDA research and the organization's 2016 National Organic Research Agenda are expected to be highly influential in future research investments.

Dr. Bill Tracy, Chair of the Agronomy Department and Dr. Erin Silva, an Organic and Sustainable Cropping Systems Specialist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, spoke about the impact organic research is having on both organic and conventional farmers. Dr. Tracy and Dr. Silva are both recipients of OFRF grants.

Organic farmer and OFRF board member, Dr. Heather Darby, an Agronomic and Soils Specialist for the University of Vermont Extension, discussed how greater investment in organic research will help farmers succeed in meeting the booming consumer demand for organic products.

On May 23rd, Congresswoman Pingree was the keynote speaker at day two of the Organic Confluences Summit. Pingree stayed on to participate in a roundtable discussion, "Assessing Organic Agriculture Research Funding," moderated by Jessica Shade of the Organic Center. Brise Tencer was on the panel with Mark Lipson from the University of California, Santa Cruz and Tom Rabaey from General Mills.

Photo: Congresswoman Chellie Pingree and Brise Tencer

See related blog, Bipartisan Bill Supports Increased Funding for Organic Research.

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