Organic Grain Collaboration drills down into barriers, proposes solutions

The United States is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of conventionally grown grains. America’s farmers grow and ship out to foreign destinations vast amounts of cereal grains and grain legumes. But the production of organic grains in this country has been slow to take off, even as demand for organic grains has grown to unprecedented levels.

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Perspective from a grain farmer-scientist

In an introductory letter to GRAIN BY GRAIN: A Quest to Revive American Wheat, Rural Jobs, and Healthy Food, Jaime Jennings writes, “You hold in your hands the story of an unsung hero. Bob Quinn is a straight-shooting, small-town farmer who turned his family farm into an organic multimillion dollar heirloom grain company.”

President and Founder of Organic Trade Association member Kamut International, Quinn, who co-authored the book with Liz Carlisle, shares his practical wisdom from a lifetime of farming--and scientific discovery.

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Training organic trainers

Clif Bar and Pipeline Foods are stepping up to spearhead a much-needed program to train agricultural professionals working with organic or transitioning farmers. The project, supported by the Organic Trade Association’s industry-invested organic research, promotion and education GRO programming, is called the Organic Agronomy Training Series (OATS), will launch this spring in the Midwest.

Clif Bar has provided a cornerstone donation of $50,000 for the project, while Pipeline Foods has spearheaded a broad coalition to implement the project.

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Products from rotational crops

In 2018, Organic Grain Collaboration Grain member and organic food company Annie’s unveiled two new products featuring ingredients from rotational crops used in organic grain production. Its “Limited Edition” line features graham crackers made from hard red winter wheat and oats, and macaroni and cheese made with durum wheat and golden peas, and reflects a partnership with two organic farmers in Montana.

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Organic Regulatory Recap - 2018 In Review

Whether you are an organic fruit or vegetable farmer, a livestock producer, a dairyman, an organic food or fiber processor or a distributor or retailer, stalled organic standards development, rooting out fraud in the organic industry, and conducting rulemaking on the tools available to certified organic operations were the key regulatory themes for the organic sector in 2018.

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Regulatory Recap - All Organic Operations

Setting the stage for 2018 , USDA announced its “Principles for Organic:” 1) Protect the integrity of the USDA Organic seal; 2) Deliver efficient and effective oversight of organic production practices, to ensure organic products meet consistent standards. These principles largely translate to where the lion’s share of USDA’s time and resources are being directed--increased oversight and enforcement to curb fraudulent organic imports.

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Agricultural chemicals and human health

World pesticide use has reached nearly 6 billion pounds per year, with the United States alone accounting for over 20% of that use. The Environmental Protection Agency has registered and approved almost 1,400 pesticides with over 900 active ingredients for use in the U.S. The majority are used on conventional farms in the form of synthetic herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, and fumigants.

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