Posts Tagged: Organic
The University of California system's first-ever institute for organic research and education will be established in UC ANR with a $500,000 endowment gift from Clif Bar & Company and $500,000 in matching funds from UC President Janet Napolitano.
The California Organic Institute will accelerate the development and adoption of effective tools and practices for organic farmers and those transitioning to organic by building on the capabilities of UC ANR's Cooperative Extension and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program. Although organic is the fastest growing sector of the food economy, funding for research has lagged far behind support for conventional agriculture. Farmers interested in transitioning to organic or improving performance of their organic systems often lack the guidance they need to succeed.
“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,” said Glenda Humiston, UC vice president of agriculture and natural resources. “UC Cooperative Extension advisors work directly with farmers throughout the state so new organic farming techniques can be applied quickly.”
The California Organic Institute is Clif Bar's third organic research endowment and the first in its home state of California, where the company sources several key organic ingredients. Clif Bar is not alone in sourcing from the state, which has the most organic farms in the U.S.: California's nearly 3,000 certified organic farms grow crops on land that represents 21% of all U.S. certified organic land.
“The California Organic Institute will serve many of the organic producers we depend on for ingredients like almonds and figs, as well as farmers outside our supply chain,” said Lynn Ineson, vice president of Sustainable Sourcing for Clif Bar. “We recognize that the future of our food company depends on the ecological and economic success of organic and transitioning farmers.”
Recruitment for an institute director will begin in early 2020, with a search committee including industry representatives and partners. The director will work with a permanent advisory committee, Clif Bar, and UC ANR to launch the institute and recruit additional like-minded partners to support its long-term success.
Ultimately, with the support of UC ANR and a constellation of partners, the California Organic Institute will be in a strong position to increase the performance of organic farming for improved stewardship of natural resources, the economic well-being of rural communities, and greater stability for the next generation of California farmers.
Alda Pires, a UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Cooperative Extension specialist at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the standards are based on little scientific information and require more research and field testing.
Pires and Michele Jay-Russell, program manager with the Western Center for Food Safety, are co-principal investigators on a project to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens on organic farms. They would like UC Cooperative Extension advisors who work with organic produce growers to assist the project by inviting the growers to participate in a new survey on manure use and food safety. The direct link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/manurefoodsafety.
The School of Veterinary Medicine and its partners recently brought together more than 30 producers, industry members and experts from across the country to discuss food safety in the fast-growing segment of organic agriculture, as part of a project funded by USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). Participants included representatives from the UC Davis Western Center for Food Safety, the Organic Trade Association, the FDA Division of Produce Safety and the Division of Risk and Decision Analysis, the USDA Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the Association of Compost Producers, the Organic Center, among others.
Information gathered at the workshop on the industry's use of manure and compost will help project leaders develop a full-scale research proposal to assess the efficacy of practices in the U.S. to reduce the risk of foodborne pathogens on organic farms. It will also help inform and guide policy such as the FDA's Produce Safety Rule that is recommending more research on waiting periods between raw manure application and harvest.
Facilitated by Pires and Jay-Russell, the workshop featured in-depth discussions, surveys and listening sessions on issues important to organic farmers. Topics included the use of raw manure and compost, rotational grazing practices and extension needs including technology innovations and other tools to help them comply with new food safety regulations.
“We need to work together to leverage our efforts to prevent foodborne illnesses in the U.S.,” said Jay-Russell. “While one size won't fit all, organic farmers want and need scientific-based tools to help them adapt to change and ensure food safety.”
This national project is a collaboration with the Western Center for Food Safety, which conducts related research, and the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine's Western Institute for Food Safety and Security.