Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources

Organic Agriculture

Organic Farming Research for the Northwest

Introduction

The organic food industry has been growing at a rate of 20-30% per year for the past 10 years in the U.S., with a commensurate increase in land farmed under certified organic management, and an increased need for research on organic farming practices and systems. In Washington State, organic acreage has increased 8-fold since 1993 and the organic food industry is valued at over $200 million per year and. The organic sector supports thousands of businesses of all sizes, with extensive positive repercussions for rural communities. Organic systems generally lead to improved environmental performance and farmworker safety thus lessening the need for the public sector to bear these costs. Organically approved products, often developed by small businesses, need testing for efficacy and registration. Conventional growers also benefit from the development of organic practices and products, which they are increasingly adopting to deal with pesticide resistance and regulatory constraints and because adoption of these methods can lead to reduced costs, improved biological performance, and enhanced environmental protection.


CSANR Organic Farming Research Program

The Washington State University Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources has launched an organic farming research program to serve the Pacific Northwest. This Federally supported research program will support the expansion of crop production research and initiate economic and market research of organic foods. The grant program is currently in its second 5-year funding cycle, and for each cycle, research priorities were identified by organic growers, consumers, suppliers, and researchers in the region and results will continue to be disseminated to these stakeholders.


Research Priorities Funding period FY08–FY12


Research Priorities Funding period FY03–07


Outcomes

Funding will advance the profitability, agronomic performance, environmental stewardship, and number of organic and sustainable farms. The region`s climatic diversity (especially the semi-arid zones with high-quality irrigation water) provides biophysical characteristics that favor organic production, and the agricultural sector can capitalize on this natural advantage. However, on-going research is needed to maintain a viable organic farming sector in the region in light of expanding organic production in low-cost labor countries such as China and Chile that will compete with our products. This will result in economic benefits to growers and their rural communities, meeting consumer demand for organic products that bring environmental benefits to the farm and watershed, and techniques that conventional farmers can use to meet the regulatory challenges of the federal Food Quality Protection Act and other public environmental initiatives.


Research Program Contacts

David Granatstein, Sustainable Agriculture Specialist, Center for Sustaining Agriculture and Natural Resources; Tel: (509) 663-8181 x.222; granats@wsu.edu

Dr. Carol Miles, Vegetable Extension Specialist, WSU Mount Vernon NWREC; Tel. (360) 848-6150; milesc@wsu.edu


Legislator Supporters

Patty Murray, State Senator

Maria Cantwell, State Senator

Rick Larsen, State Representative

Norm Dicks, State Representative

Cathy McMorris, State Representative


Partners

Maurice Robinette, Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network; Tel. 509-299-6690; mrobinette@wsffn.org

Alec McErlich, Director of Horticulture Research and Development, Small Planet Foods Inc. (a subsidiary of General Mills); Tel: (360) 855-2726; alec.mcerlich@smallplanetfoods.com

Dr. Jim McFerson, Washington Tree Fruit Research Commission, 1719 Springwater St., Wenatchee, WA 98801; Tel: (509) 665-8271; mcferson@treefruitresearch.com

Anne Schwartz, President, Washington Tilth Producers; Tel: (360) 853-8449; als@fidalgo.net

Tracy Wolpert, CEO; Puget Consumers Co-op, 7 stores serving 40,000 member households and the general public in the Puget Sound. Tel: (206) 547-1222; Tracy.Wolpert@pccsea.com

Miles McEvoy, WSDA, Organic Food Program. Tel: (360) 902-1924; mmcevoy@agr.wa.gov


Project Funding History

Fiscal Year Pres Request Org. Request Funding Amount Appr. Bill Account; Sub-account
2007   $810000 $246313 AG USDA CSREES Special Research Grant
2006   $810000 $331795 AG USDA CSREES Special Grant
2004   $810000 $225000 AG USDA CSREES Special Grant
2003   $510000 $125000 AG USDA CSREES Special Grant


Annual Reports

Organic Cropping Research – 2006 Progress Reports

Organic Cropping Research – 2005 Progress Reports

Organic Cropping Research – 2004 Progress Reports

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