USDA Announces $21 Million in Organic Research and Extension Funding

by Amanda Hils

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced more than $21.3 million in grants for research and outreach projects that will help growers, producers, and processors improve their organic operations’ success and ability to innovate.

“Research, education, and extension gives the organic agriculture industry the opportunity to expand on best practices, implement more efficient techniques, and develop new approaches to distributing its products,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “With today’s grants, USDA’s university partners are better positioned to help ensure the continued success of organic crops and growers.”

The grants announced today include $17.5 million for projects submitted to NIFA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). This program focuses on helping producers and processors who have already adopted organic practices to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. OREI’s priorities include biological, physical, and social sciences, with an emphasis on research and outreach that assist farmers and ranchers with whole farm planning. More information about OREI can be found on the NIFA website.

The Organic Transitions Program (ORG) awards were also announced today, totaling nearly $3.8 million for researchers to advancing science for practical application in organic agriculture production. ORG projects concentrate on applying research, education, and extension knowledge to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers who are transitioning to organic production. More information on this program can be found on the NIFA website.

In fiscal year 2015, OREI grants included:

  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $999,955
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $50,000
  • University of California, Davis, Calif., $48,509
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla., $1,994,559
  • University of George, Athens, Ga., $2,000,000
  • Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind., $50,000
  • University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., $50,000
  • University of Maine, Orono, Maine, $999,120
  • USDA Agriculture Research Service, Beltsville, Md., $1,998,686
  • USDA Agriculture Research Service, Beltsville, Md., $902,804
  • Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Miss., $49,273
  • University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H., $47,018
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y., $1,765,854
  • Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa., $999,972
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Tenn., $1,807,044
  • Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, $555,805
  • University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $974,720
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Wash., $1,994,090
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison, Wisc., $49,992
  • University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyo., $242,908

More information about these awards are available on the NIFA website.

In fiscal year 2015, ORG grants included:

  • University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, Ark., $499,984
  • University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill., $492,596
  • Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, $499,974
  • Montana State University, Bozeman, Mont., $499,990
  • University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H., $498, 384
  • Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $498,658
  • Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pa., $375,243

ORG also granted continuation awards to the University of Florida (UF) for $214,782 and Washington State University (WSU) for $199,367, allowing researchers to further develop their ongoing projects. UF scientists have been working to resolve pest and disease barriers associated with organic pecan production in the Southeast. Researchers from WSU are continuing their work in the conservation and augmentation of beneficial insects and microbes as a practical way to reduce the risk of harboring human pathogens on organic farms. More information about all fiscal year 2015 awards are available on the NIFA website.

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