USA: Organic Farming Research Foundation´s report on challenges of organic farming
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In the USA the demand for organic food is growing rapidly and there is a need for more research so that farmers can deal with the special difficulties and problems that accompany practising organic agriculture.
Capital Press published an article about research and growing the organic sector. In the USA the demand for organic food is growing rapidly and there is a need for more research so that farmers can deal with the special difficulties and problems that accompany practising organic agriculture. Research costs money. That and disseminating knowledge of organics were the reason why the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) was founded 27 years ago. The Foundation has recently produced a report on the challenges posed by organic farming, its recommendations to address the challenges and to ensure research funding is relevant to the needs of organic farmers.
The Foundation includes in its wide range of activities funding grants for organic research and educational projects, lobbying on behalf of organic farmers and for research funding - currently $20m annually, although the Foundation's director would like to see organic research funding in proportion to the market share of the organic sector (currently 5-6% of food sales in the US).
More research in all aspects of organic farming
She sees demand exceeding domestic supply and a need therefore for more land devoted to organic production – all to the benefit of agriculture in general and the environment. In her opinion, what is needed is more research in all aspects of organic farming.
When the Foundation surveyed farmers, the issues where research should be concentrated were clear: soil health, weed management, fertility, nutrient management, the nutritional quality of organic food and insect management. The Foundation promotes research in these areas, plus climate change, food safety, GMO, seed availability, pollinator health and barriers to market entry.
The Foundation's report reveals that in the west of the USA research into irrigation efficiency and drought – the biggest challenge - is a top priority. For farmers the major issue is drought and this is where they want to see research directed. All aspects of drought management that affect production are their priorities, plus weed control measures, disease and pest and insect control.
The Foundation also recommends providing beginning and transitioning organic producers with the tools, knowledge and mentoring that would help them to achieve success in organic farming