May 18, 2023
OFRF calls for increased research funding in farm bill

The Organic Farming Research Foundation is calling for increased funding for organic research and an expansion of the Organic Data Initiative in its official priorities for the 2023 Farm Bill.

OFRF’s priorities include increases in the organic research being conducted by the Agricultural Research Service to a portion equal to the organic market share as well as increased investment in the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture organic management strategies.

The Organic Farming Research Foundation is calling for increased funding for organic research in the 2023 Farm Bill. Photo: File

In 2022, the ARS, the USDA’s lone in-house research operation, spent around $15 million on direct organic research, or less than 1% of a $1.8 billion budget, according to a news release from OFRF.

“That same year, the organic product sales market exceeded $60 billion for the second time, representing over 6% of the total market,” the release stated. “Organic and conventional producers depend on research products that help them make economically and ecologically smart decisions. The long-term research projects at ARS produce high-quality research products that are not always possible through shorter-term, grant-funded projects.”

OFRF also called for widespread investment across all NIFA research projects to help more producers transition into organic production as well as for the expansion and full funding of the ODI, a multiagency initiative that performs economic analysis, organic risk assessments, survey and statistical analysis and market data collection.

“This program has been successful in providing valuable information to Congress, government agencies, and the organic sector,” the release stated. “There has not been a full, systematic USDA review of the organic market since 2014. Funding the ODI would allow the USDA to provide that service.”

OFRF is working with Congress in both the farm bill and the annual appropriations process, including introducing multiple marker bills and submitting testimony to committees. Marker bills are introduced in Congress to signal policy ideas and gather support.

The organization has four specific requests for discretionary funding: $35 million and report language for organic agriculture topics at ARS; $10 million for the Organic Transitions Research Program operated by NIFA; (3) $60 million, or full authorized levels for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) operated by NIFA; and $1 million for the Organic Data and Markets Initiative, a joint initiative of the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), Economic Research Service (ERS), and the National Agricultural Statistical Service (NASS).

“All of the policies included in these efforts represent countless hours working with our partners and a significant step toward providing needed investments into organic agriculture research,” the release stated.

OFRF’s core policies, according to the release, aim to:

  • Build resiliency to both climate and supply chain disruption through organic management and more localized food systems.
  • Invest in research in organic agriculture. Research has significant benefits to public good and return on investment, with each dollar of investment into public research providing over $20 in economic benefit.
  • Support the expansion of organic production to meet increasing market demand for organic products through additional investments in research relevant to organic producers.
  • Make sure organic producers and those interested in transitioning to organic production have the research tools and opportunities needed to thrive.

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