Farmers Advocating for Organics Plans for $1 Million in Grant Awards for Organic Education, Advocacy and Research

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Healthy soil and seeds are set as major priorities. More than $2.1 million awarded since 2007.

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'FAFO empowers organic farmers to work together to support strong rural communities, profitable family farms and a stable marketplace—all of which will benefit farmers and consumers alike,' said George Siemon, C-E-I-E-I-O of CROPP Cooperative.

Farmers Advocating for Organics (FAFO)—the only farmer-funded and -governed granting program in the nation—today announced a plan to distribute $1,060,709 in grant awards for organic education, advocacy and research. The fund was founded by CROPP Cooperative (more commonly known by its brands Organic Valley and Organic Prairie) in 2007 and has already invested more than $2.1 million in efforts to ensure the survival of organic agriculture.

“Every dollar in the FAFO program has come voluntarily out of an organic farmer’s pocket specifically to protect and promote the future of organic,” said George Siemon, C-E-I-E-I-O of CROPP Cooperative. “FAFO empowers organic farmers to work together to support strong rural communities, profitable family farms and a stable marketplace—all of which will benefit farmers and consumers alike.”

In 2012, FAFO’s “annual grants” totaled $298,209 and targeted projects in the following key areas:

  • Seed diversity (Rural Advancement Foundation International, $30,000)
  • GMO labeling (Just Label It, $100,000)
  • Organic agricultural systems research (Climate and Corn-based Cropping Systems Coordinated Agricultural Project, $75,000)
  • Young farmer development (CROPP’s Generation Organic™ program, $25,000)
  • Pesticides and children’s health (Pesticide Action Network of North America, $20,000)
  • Women in agriculture (Womenshare: Hungry for Change, $16,000)
  • Organic education and advocacy (Northeast Organic Farmers Interstate Council Advocacy and Education, $5,000)
  • Organic dairy farming systems (University of Kentucky, Jeff Bewley, $4,909)
  • Organic agriculture science, teaching and extension (American Society for Horticultural Science Organic Agriculture Working Group, $4,000)
  • Organic farming success & expansion (Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, $2,800)
  • Organic milk research, (CROPP’s Research & Development Department, $15,500)

FAFO also committed $312,500 in longer-term “sustaining grants” to four organizations whose distinguished work is creating an impact in organic food and farming. Each recipient will receive support for three years, 2012 to 2014.

  • Environmental Working Group (Education, $25,000/year)
  • Center for Food Safety (Education and Advocacy, $25,000/year)
  • Organic Seed Alliance (Advocacy, $25,000/year)
  • Dr. Charles Benbrook, Washington State University (Research, $37,500/$25,000/$25,000)

Taking a more proactive approach to funding, FAFO also announced a new award category: “Initiatives.” Each year, FAFO will allocate funds for two priority topics for a two-year period. Healthy soil and seed were selected as the first two initiatives, and $450,000 has been budgeted for the execution of these initiatives in 2013 and 2014.

“Organic works from the ground up,” explained George Teague, the North Carolina organic farmer who chairs FAFO. “Healthy soil is organic farming’s greatest strategic resource, and a robust organic seed system is essential for its success. By approaching these topics comprehensively over a multi-year period, we hope to generate a much greater impact.”

Further details on the specific projects and organizations receiving the soil and seed awards are being finalized, according to Kristine Salmi-Snowdeal, FAFO administrator. For updates and details on how to apply for a FAFO grant, please visit FAFO on the web at

CROPP Cooperative: Independent and Farmer-Owned
Organized in 1988 to save family farms through organic farming, CROPP is America’s largest cooperative of organic farmers and represents 1,814 farmers in 35 states and three Canadian provinces. CROPP farmers produce a variety of products that are sold under one of the nation’s leading organic brands, Organic Valley, which achieved $860 million in 2012 sales. Products include organic milk, soy, cheese, butter, spreads, creams, eggs, produce and juice, which are sold in supermarkets, natural foods stores and food cooperatives nationwide. Using its own regional model, milk is produced, bottled and distributed right in the region where it is farmed to ensure fewer miles from farm to table and to support our local economies. For further information, and to learn about 25 years of sustainable agriculture as CROPP celebrates its 25th anniversary in 2013, please visit Organic Valley is also on Twitter @OrganicValley and Facebook at

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