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Organic Confluences looks at how to make research count

Summit to explore connecting organic stakeholders to scientific research results

Maggie McNeil
(202) 403-8514
(202) 615-7997
Washington , DC
May 19, 2017
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More research projects on organic agriculture are underway now in American universities, trial fields and science labs than ever before. But all that work will really only be of benefit if it meets the needs of organic stakeholders and if the results of that research are effectively communicated to – and used by – end users.

The Organic Center will look at the barriers to the dissemination and adoption of scientific research findings in the organic sector at its second annual Organic Confluences Summit entitled “Making Research Count” on Monday and Tuesday, May 22-23, in Washington, D.C., in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Economic Research Service.

“We want to make sure that researchers are fully aware of priorities relevant to organic farmers or policymakers, and research findings are translated into actionable recommendations,” says Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center. “Without a clear channel of communication, researchers may not know how best to communicate with organic farmers or policymakers, and programs funding organic agriculture research may not actually prioritize the research most needed by organic producers.”

At the Summit, thought leaders including farmers, scientists, industry members and key policymakers will identify and assess the barriers in communicating research results. These barriers can limit the ability of diverse stakeholders to effectively use these beneficial findings and adopt new technologies. The two-day conference will kick off Organic Week organized by the Organic Trade Association.

Keynote speaker Congresswoman Chellie Pingree of Maine will discuss the critical need for funding organic agricultural research and share her experience as an organic farmer and her advocacy in Congress to help support organic agriculture.

Pingree, along with Representatives Dan Newhouse of Washington and Jimmy Panetta of California, recently introduced the Organic Agriculture Research Act, which calls for an increase in the annual funding of the Department of Agriculture’s flagship Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). 

The  Organic Center’s conference will include panel presentations interspersed with case studies that further apply research findings and available resources and information. Panel presentations will focus on such topics as the importance of communicating research in organic to help the industry thrive, and identifying ways to increase stakeholder involvement in research and outreach. Discussions will include in-depth assessments of research communication and adoption using multiple case studies covering a variety of topics including biodiversity conservation, food safety, and organic grain breeding.  

Wrapping up the conference, attendees will help develop recommendations based on the Summit discussions. These and information from Summit presentations will be used to create a White Paper on how to improve communication among groups to ensure that relevant research is being conducted, that results are being appropriately disseminated, and that stakeholders have access to and are utilizing research results and technologies.

Making the Confluences Summit possible is a major grant from USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, Award # 2016-51300-2573. Other sponsors include Organic Valley, Farmers Advocating for Organic, MOM’s Organic Market, Organic Farming Research Foundation, Driscoll’s, Organic India, Annie’s, Stonyfield, True Organic Products Inc., and Lehigh Valley Organic Growers Inc.

Meanwhile, The Organic Center has prepared a White Paper from the 2016 Organic Confluences Summit proceedings. The paper “Increasing Agricultural Sustainability Through Organic Farming” can be downloaded here.

More information about this year’s Summit and The Organic Center is available on The Center’s website.

The Organic Center’s mission is to convene credible, evidence-based science on the health and environmental benefits of organic food and farming, and to communicate the findings to the public. The Center is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) research and education organization operating under the administrative auspices of the Organic Trade Association.