In an event held Wednesday, June 12 at Jaindl Farms in Orefield, PA, Rodale Institute, along with the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture and Jaindl Farms, announced Rodale Institute’s new farmer consulting services and other initiatives throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania that aim to expand organic agriculture in the state.

Rodale Institute’s farmer consulting services will assist farmers interested in transitioning from conventional to organic agriculture in areas such as certification, crop rotation planning, recordkeeping, marketing, equipment advice, weed control methods, soil sampling, seed sourcing and more. Aiming to take a more active role in supporting organic farmers on the ground, Rodale Institute brings over 70 years of expertise to the table through research and education. While this program is offered to farmers nationwide, Rodale Institute’s consulting services are free to Pennsylvania farmers.

“This is an opportunity for Pennsylvania farmers. Family farms can make a living on the organic price premiums, while protecting the health of our soils, air, and water, and providing healthy, nutritious foods to our families,” said Jeff Moyer from Rodale Institute. “We’ve been working on research for decades—helping farmers deal with pests, diseases, weeds. Now we can do more. Transitioning to organic isn’t just about not using pesticides. Farmers need education, mentorship, one-on-one coaching and advice to make the switch.”

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Pennsylvania Secretary of Agriculture Russell Redding spoke about the proposed Pennsylvania Farm Bill, and how it will meet the unique needs of the state. One initiative of the Farm Bill is “Increasing Market Opportunities and Making Pennsylvania the Nation’s Leading Organic State.” Pennsylvania currently ranks #2 in the country in organic sales. Redding described how Pennsylvania agriculture can capitalize on the demand from consumers for local and organic foods by combining these strong brands with a new PA Preferred Organic Initiative.

“Pennsylvania’s partnership with Rodale Institute and the proposed investments under the PA Farm Bill will provide a new opportunity to producers and consumers alike,” said Sec. Redding. “By increasing access to resources and technical assistance, farmers will be able to more easily expand and diversify their operations and consumers will have more options at the farmer’s market and grocery store.”

Rodale Institute’s farmer consulting services are working in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Ag’s efforts to increase organic opportunities by putting mentors and transition resources on the ground for farmers who need them most.

Rodale Institute plans to use its groundbreaking research in pest management, weed management, crop yields, and more to educate farmers on the holistic nature of organic methods. The Rodale Institute farmer consulting services will utilize a mix of mentorship and one-on-one coaching to help empower farmers through their transition period.

David Jaindl, owner of Jaindl Farms, speaks on his farm’s efforts to transition to organic.

Jaindl Farms, a family-owned farm and Pennsylvania institution for over 80 years, has been instrumental in shaping the agricultural landscape in the state. Jaindl Farms produced 60,000 organic turkeys in 2018 and is currently in the process of transitioning a portion of their corn and soybean crops to organic. Jaindl noted that transitioning to organic makes sense with their current business model.

The event concluded with a site visit to the Jaindl Farms fields, where 100 acres of corn and 100 acres of soybeans are currently undergoing a transition to organic management as part of their pilot phase.

For more information about Rodale Institute’s farmer consulting services, please visit RodaleInstitute.org/Consulting.

All photos courtesy of Pennsylvania Internet News Service. For more photo and video clips from the event, visit click here.