The University of California will be establishing its first institution designed specifically for organic research and education; the California Organic Institute. The new institute will be developed through UC’s Agriculture and Natural Resources division (UC ANR) thanks in part to a $500,000 endowment gift from Clif Bar & Company, as well as another $500,000 in matching funds from UC President Janet Napolitano.
“California’s organic farmers already benefit from UC ANR’s pest management, irrigation and crop production research, and this partnership with Clif Bar will give UC more capacity to focus on challenges specific to organic farming,” UCANR Vice President, Glenda Humiston said in a news release. “UC Cooperative Extension advisors work directly with farmers throughout the state so new organic farming techniques can be applied quickly.”
The California Organic Institute will help advance organic production methods and assist with the development and implementation of tools and practices for the organic sector. The new institute will build on the work already done by UC ANR’s Cooperative Extension and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.
According to the most recent USDA Agricultural Census California is home to 3,335 certified organic farms, more than twice as many as any other state. Those organic farms make up nearly a quarter of all certified organic acreage in the U.S. While growth in the organic sector has begun to slow, there were still 347 farming operations in California that were transitioning from conventional to organic farming.
A search committee comprised of industry representatives and partners will be selecting a director for the new institute in the coming months. The director will be collaborating with a permanent advisory committee, Clif Bar, and UC ANR to develop the institute and attract other partners to ensure the success of the program. The new institution’s mission will be to continue the development of organic production in the state.