National Organic Producer Surveys Released

Highlighting Challenges and Priorities Can Help Guide Future Research Investment

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The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) and Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) released two national surveys in February—one for certified organic producers and the other for producers transitioning to organic certification. This collaborative effort is part of a USDA-funded project seeking to learn more about the challenges and research priorities of organic farmers and ranchers, as well as farmers and ranchers transitioning land to certified organic production.

OFRF, OSA, and a broad coalition of organic champions were instrumental in securing an increase in federal funding for organic research from $20M to $50M in the 2018 Farm Bill. These funds will dramatically expand competitive grants through USDA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), ensuring organic farmers and ranchers have the tools and technology to meet their unique challenges and the growing demand for organic products—leading to a more resilient and sustainable agricultural system that values healthy environments and healthy people.

Strong farmer participation in these surveys is critical to informing that investment. Survey results will be published in updated versions of OFRF’s National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) report (https://ofrf.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/NORA_2016_final9_28.pdf) and OSA’s State of Organic Seed (SOS) report, (stateoforganicseed.org) both of which serve as invaluable resources for ensuring research funding is relevant and responsive to the needs of organic producers, while also identifying gaps where additional investment is necessary. By collaborating on these surveys, OFRF and OSA hope to reduce survey fatigue and increase grower participation.

OFRF’s NORA report is a frequently cited resource that has helped ensure research funding is relevant and responsive to the needs of organic producers, while also identifying gaps where additional investment is necessary.

“With demand for organic products continuing to outpace domestic production,” said Brise Tencer, OFRF’s Executive Director, “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.”

OSA’s State of Organic Seed (SOS) project (stateoforganicseedorg) is an ongoing project that monitors the status of organic seed in the U.S. and provides a roadmap for increasing the diversity, quality, and integrity of organic seed available to farmers. “Organic farmers produce food differently, and that means they need different seed for the crops they grow—seed developed to thrive without synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, and adapted to their local climate and soil conditions,” said Kiki Hubbard, OSA’s Director of Advocacy & Communications.

“Understanding the research needs of organic farmers, including in the area of seed and plant breeding, is critical to the ongoing growth and success of organic agriculture,” Hubbard added. “OSA is privileged to have the opportunity to partner with OFRF on this critical project with strong support from the USDA’s OREI program.”

Organic Survey Deadline: June 1st, 2020

If you are a Certified Organic Farmer/Rancher, please respond to this survey:
www.opinion.wsu.edu/organicproduction

If you are a Farmer/Rancher transitioning to Certified Organic production (this means no land currently certified organic), please take this transitioning producer survey:
www.opinion.wsu.edu/transitionproducers

The survey is being administered by Washington State University and all responses will be kept confidential. If you have any questions about this survey, please contact Lauren Scott at lauren.n.scott@wsu.edu or call 1-800-833-0867. This study has been certified as exempt from the need for review by the Washington State University Institutional Review Board.

The project is supported by the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) grant no. 2019-51300-30249 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) is a non-profit foundation that works to foster the improvement and widespread adoption of organic farming systems. OFRF cultivates organic research, education, and federal policies that bring more farmers and acreage into organic production. All OFRF research results and educational materials are available to download for free at ofrf.org.

Organic Seed Alliance (OSA) is a non-profit that works nationally to advance ethical seed solutions to meet food and farming needs in a changing world. Through research, education, and advocacy, OSA fosters organic seed systems that are democratic and just, support human and environmental health, and deliver genetically diverse and regionally adapted seed to farmers everywhere.

About the author

Vicki Lowell
Communications Manager at