The Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF) 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. As part of our KORA Cares initiative KORA Organics customers will be able to donate to OFRF when placing an order. To celebrate we’ve asked the team to answer a few questions so you can learn a little bit more about them.
Q. How does organic farming differentiate from non-organic farming?
Organic farming makes healthy food, healthy soils, healthy plants, healthy people, and healthy environments a priority. Unlike non-organic production, organic farmers are prohibited from using genetically modified (GM) seed, synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones, or irradiation. Animals raised on organic farms must be fed 100% organic feed, cannot not be fed antibiotics or growth hormones, and must be provided access to the outdoors.
Q. What are the benefits of organic farming?
Organic farming keeps dangerous agricultural chemicals out of our lands, waterways, and food. Organic farmers use production practices with environmental benefits such as cover cropping, minimal tillage, habitat maintenance for beneficial insects and vertebrates, and biological pest control. The National Organic Standards require certified producers to implement these practices and others that improve and maintain the physical, chemical, and biological condition of the soil.
Q. How does organic farming help our environment?
The ecologically protective practices used by organic farmers benefit water quality, soil health, and biodiversity, restoring our lands and waterways from the adverse effects of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. They also help increase resilience to the impacts of climate change. There is extensive research demonstrating the potential of organic systems to reduce agriculture’s contribution to climate change by capturing and storing more carbon (CO2) in the soil and releasing fewer greenhouse gases.
Q. How important is research to organic farming?
Organic farming is a more knowledge- and science-based way of doing things. Organic farmers need to understand the lifecycles and biological interactions of pests and how soil works. It’s a completely different system than non-organic farming—that’s why research focused on organic is so critical. Research delivers valuable information, tools, and resources that help farmers increase the environmental and economic sustainability of their operations and steward the land for future generations.
Q. How do donations help?
OFRF has been providing organic and transitioning farmers and ranchers with the resources they need to be successful for three decades. OFRF puts farmers first—we do not charge an annual membership fee and all of our resources are available for free.Your donation will provide critical support for our work to:
- Advocate for federal programs and policies that support the unique needs of organic agriculture, ensuring the voices of organic farmers and ranchers are heard in Washington, DC. OFRF is working to ensure that climate legislation includes support for organic agriculture given its potential to mitigate the effects of climate change.
- Provide funding for innovative on-farm projects that advance the scientific knowledge, ecological sustainability, and economic prosperity of organic farming.
- Translateresearch findings into practical resources and educational platforms that help organic farmers and ranchers implement best practices and advancements in organic agriculture.
Q. What are the top challenges facing organic farmers and ranchers and producers who want to farm more sustainably?
Organic agricultural producers face unique challenges, from the availability of organic seeds, crop cultivars, and livestock breeds adapted to organic systems, to coping with weeds and pests, and using approved organic methods. Because organic farmers cannot use synthetic pesticides to control weeds and pests, they must rely on practices that holistically promote the health of the agroecosystem and protect against pest infestations and soil degradation.
Based on OFRF’s 2016 National Organic Research Agenda (NORA) report, the top challenges organic producers currently face include soil health and weed management, organic pest management, climate change, and social science research on the barriers to organic transition.
Q. How do your educational platforms help organic farmers and ranchers?
There is a clear need for non-biased scientific information that helps farmers and ranchers select and implement best practices.Our free series of Soil Health and Organic Farming guidebooks and webinars provides an analysis of decades of research related to building soil health and organizes it by topic for greater accessibility and ease-of-use. OFRF’s free online training program for beginning farmers, existing organic farmers, and farmers in transition to organic production, developed for California specialty crop farmers, is based on foundational principles that are relevant to all organic farmers.