Policy

Soil Health Institute Releases Research Landscape Tool

The Soil Health Institute released its Soil Health Research Landscape tool on January 3rd.  This free online library and search engine includes more than 1,000 scientific research papers, research progress reports, and other publications and references. This will be a resource for agricultural and environmental scientists, industry leaders, agricultural producers, policy makers, journalists, and others interested in soil health.

CSP Undergoes Major Changes in 2017

The USDA recently announced a sweeping reinvention of its Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), including several changes related specifically to organic agriculture. CSP is designed to support farmers and ranchers as they actively manage and expand conservation activities on their agricultural land.

USDA Streamlines Access to Cost Share Program

Beginning March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices nationwide to apply for federal reimbursement for costs related to receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.

USDA Streamlines Access to Cost Share Program

Beginning March 20, 2017, organic producers and handlers will be able to visit over 2,100 USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) offices nationwide to apply for federal reimbursement for costs related to receiving and maintaining organic or transitional certification.

OFRF Staff Present NORA Report to CDFA

Several OFRF staff met with Karen Ross, Secretary of the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) in December to discuss ideas for strengthening organic agriculture research in California. Brise Tencer, Executive Director of OFRF, Joanna Ory, Research Program Associate, and Michael Stein, Policy Associate, met at the Secretary’s office in Sacramento to present the 2016 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) published by OFRF earlier this year.

USDA Offers Grants to Help Meet Demand for Organic Products

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is offering up to $3.8M in funding to support research, education and extension for both new and existing organic farmers and ranchers. The effort is aimed at helping more farmers gain access to the growing market for organic products in the U.S., which is now valued at more than $43B.

The grants were authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and are funded through the Organic Transitions Program (ORG). Applications are due March 9, 2017.

Former OFRF Board Chair Joins NOSB

The National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), an advisory group responsible for considering issues and making recommendations to USDA on topics including the production, handling, and processing of organic products, held its biannual meeting in mid November in St. Louis. These meetings provide the opportunity for organic stakeholders to provide input on proposed changes and recommendations. After receiving recommendations from the NOSB, the USDA will publish its final rules on the issues.

Looking Forward

The election of any new President comes with many challenges and opportunities. For the first time in eight years America is preparing for an Administration change. Starting in 2017, we will now be dealing with single party control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency.  Looking forward, the political landscape will most certainly change dramatically. 

NRCS Champions to Assist Organic Producers

As the demand for organic products continues to grow, more farmers and ranchers are becoming certified organic producers and transitioning all or part of their operations to organic production. In response, USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is developing a network of field-level staff to help newer farmers understand and leverage resources. The position is designed to help improve field capacity in assisting organic and transitioning-to-organic producers.

OFRF Brings Farmers’ Needs and Research Priorities to Washington DC

This blog was written by OFRF Research Associate, Joanna Ory, who recently traveled to Washington, DC to present OFRF’s research findings on the needs of organic farmers.

I gave presentations to USDA researchers and policymakers to let them know about the importance of organic research and the priorities for organic farmers, based on findings in our recently released 2016 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA). Although organic farmers and ranchers face unique challenges, research in organic systems can benefit everyone, as both organic and non-organic farms can use organic techniques to increase sustainability and solve production challenges.

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