USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) recently announced the availability of up to $3.8 million in funding to support research, education, and Extension to support organic farmers and ranchers as well as those adopting organic practices for the first time. The grants are funded through the Organic Transitions Program (ORG), administered by NIFA and authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
“The United States retail market for organic products is valued at more than $43 billion — and consumer demand for organic products is booming,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “Research investments in programs like Organic Transitions helps more farms become certified organic and gain access to this growing market opportunity.”
Priority research areas include:
- Documenting and understanding the effects of organic practices such as crop rotation, livestock-crop integration, organic manure, mulch and/or compost additions, cover crops, and reduced or conservation tillage on ecosystem services, greenhouse gas mitigation, and biodiversity.
- Improving technologies, methods, model development and other metrics to document, describe and optimize the environmental services and climate change mitigation ability of organic farming systems.
- Developing cultural practices and other allowable alternatives to substances recommended for removal from The National Organic Program’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
- Addressing major barriers that limit the transition to organic agriculture in a given region or specific crop or animal production systems.
Applications are due March 9, 2017. For eligibility, program details and to apply for a grant, see NIFA’s Organic Transitions web page.
There are now more than 21,700 certified USDA organic operations, representing a nearly 300% increase since 2002. Worldwide, there are more than 31,000 certified organic operations in more than 120 countries.