PULLMAN, Wash. – A recent assessment of educational and research programs in organic agriculture in the U.S. puts WSU in the top six schools in the nation. In fact, WSU outranks every other program in the country, because WSU is still the only university to offer a four-year, science-based bachelor of science degree in organic agriculture.
WSU’s program is hands-on and draws on decades of faculty research and educational leadership to give students a solid grounding in the science and business of organic and sustainable food production. WSU is also one of the few universities in the world to offer online and, through various departments, graduate programs in organic and sustainable agriculture.
And it’s only going to get better. A recent $5 million investment by organic and natural foods pioneers Chuck and Louanna Eggert and their family will expand the WSU Organic Farm from 4 to 30 acres. This will make WSU’s farm the largest organic teaching and research farm in the country.
The assessment was conducted by the Organic Farming Research Foundation (OFRF), a national nonprofit organization that, among many other things, tracks and reports on organic agriculture programs in the U.S. land grant university system. OFRF’s Organic Land Grant Assessment sheds light on America’s ability to meet growing consumer demand with organic farmers and research. In the assessment, OFRF scored each institution on eight points, including maintaining organic research land; cultivating a student organic farm; offering an organic minor, major, or certificate; and employing dedicated organic agriculture faculty.
According to an OFRF news release, the assessment illuminates the opportunity the United States has in meeting rapidly growing consumer demand for organic food with a sustainable, well-trained supply of organic farmers. There are currently 14,600 certified organic farmers in the U.S. The USDA hopes that will increase by 20 percent over the next five years. This is the perfect moment for agricultural universities to fill a tremendous economic niche in our nation.