November 19, 2010
This week, the Organic Farming Research Foundation hosted a workshop in Davis, California with organic farmers and ranchers and staff of USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). The workshop explored and identified ways that NRCS programs and conservation technical assistance can better work for farmers and ranchers using organic farming systems. About 55 participants attended, including farmers, ranchers and NRCS staff, as well as staff from sustainable and organic agriculture organizations that helped moderate workshop sessions.
The workshop was sponsored by the Agriculture Sustainability Institute, California Certified Organic Farmers, the Center for Rural Affairs, Farm Aid, the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service, the National Center for Appropriate Technology, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Funding was provided by the Organic Valley Committee of Farmers Advocating for Organics.
The morning agenda included concurrent sessions. At one session, the NRCS Assistant State Conservationist, the District Conservationist for Yolo County, and the Executive Director of the California Association of Resource Conservation Districts made presentations to organic farmers and ranchers. The other session involved presentations by farmers and representatives of organic farming organizations to NRCS staff. The afternoon session featured an open, in-depth dialogue among NRCS staff and organic farmers and ranchers.
The workshop also emphasized the opportunities for organic farmers and ranchers to participate on NRCS State Technical Committees and Local Working Groups, advisory groups that provide input on implementation of NRCS programs at the state and local level.
A new publication, A Guide for Organic Farmers and Ranchers: NRCS State Technical Committees and Local Working Groups, was distributed at the workshop. Organizations that participated in the Guide’s preparation include the Center for Rural Affairs, Farm Aid, the Midwest Organic & Sustainable Education Service, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and the Organic Farming Research Foundation.
You can view and download a copy of the new Guide here.