The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently awarded a grant that will help to guide future organic research. The grant was awarded to the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and the Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) through NIFA’s Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). The two organizations were jointly awarded funding for the proposal ‘A National Agenda for Organic and Transitioning Research’ that was submitted through the competitive grant process.
“OFRF is committed to advancing the research needed to meet the current challenges of organic farming, with the goal of creating a more resilient and ecologically sustainable agricultural system,” OFRF’s Executive Director, Brise Tencer said in a press release. “We are honored by OREI’s investment in this important work and believe this collaboration with OSA will both increase grower participation and strengthen the impact of our updated findings.”
The grant funding will support the process up updating OSA’s State of Organic Seed (SOS) project, as well as the OFRF’s 2016 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) report. Through collaboration, the OFRF and the OSA will be able to more effectively garner information from organic farmers and ranchers to better understand the challenges of organic production. Revising the NORA report and SOS project will ensure the increased funding in the 2018 Farm Bill is allocated as efficiently as possible to address the most substantial issues facing organic growers.
The OFRF as well as the OSA, worked with a large coalition of organic supporters to ensure the farm bill included a funding increase of $30 million to further organic research. Demand for organic products continues to grow, fueling the need to increase research in critical areas of the organic industry. “The organic industry needs more research that helps existing organic farmers scale up, diversify, and increase profitability, and also encourages more farmers and ranchers to transition to sustainable organic practices that are better for the environment and people,” said Tencer.