Jul 25, 2018Pennsylvania legislature appropriates $500,000 for organic research
The Pennsylvania General Assembly has made a $500,000 appropriation to Rodale Institute to help fund research on organic growing methods. The announcement took place at Rodale’s Institute’s Field Day, an annual event that draws several hundred farmers, gardeners, university staff and students, Extension agents, consumers and more.
“I’ve watched as the research has grown here (at Rodale Institute) and know that the work being done here can have a very, very positive impact on not only Pennsylvania, but agriculture nationally and internationally as well,” said state Senator Judy Schwank (D-11).
Rodale Institute’s research priorities, as outlined by Chief Scientist Andrew Smith:
- Support farmers by developing effective and efficient organic strategies to manage pests, fertility, and crop production management; assist farmers who want to transition from conventional to organic methods
- Agro-eco system resilience: creating healthy farming systems that adapt to environmental change. For example, in the Institute’s 39-year-old Farming Systems Trial, organic systems demonstrate increased ability to retain water and support healthy crop growth during drought.
- Human health and nutrition: investigating links between soil health and human health, primarily through the Institute’s Vegetable Systems Trial, which is supported in part by a grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
According to the National Agricultural Statistical Service, Pennsylvania growers generated $659 million in certified organic commodities in 2016, putting the state second in the nation behind California for total organic sales. Between 2015 and 2016, there was an 18 percent increase in the number of organic farms in the commonwealth, from 681 to 803.