Sep 15, 2021
$30M rolled out for organic farm research, transitions, Extension

USDA officials Sept. 15 rolled out more than $30 million in projects for organic farmers and ranchers.

The investment by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, or NIFA, creates 33 grants funding research, education and extension projects to improve yields, quality and profitability for producers and processors who have adopted organic standards.

“These grants will support research and extension efforts at local universities to provide valuable information and training, especially for local, small farmers and producers,” NIFA Director Carrie Castille said in a news release. NIFA’s investment will support education and extension efforts to help existing and transitioning organic livestock and crop producers adopt organic practices and improve their market competitiveness.

Examples of the 22 funded Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative grants include:

  • The demand for organic rice in the U.S. exceeds domestic supply and leads to significant import competition. The University of Arkansas will lead efforts to expand organic rice production in the U.S. and develop a multistate outreach program to share information generated by this project. The announced investment is $456,111.
  • The University of Vermont will work with both the organic dairy industry and the organic aquaculture industry to further develop a partnership for feeding organic seaweed to cows, while financially benefiting both markets in a sustainable manner. The announced investment is $2.9 million.
  • To help drive down expensive organic pig production feed and bedding costs and reduce negative environmental impacts, the University of Minnesota will develop strategies to optimize winter hybrid rye production, evaluate the nutritional value of hybrid rye fed to pigs, determine its effects on meat quality, and examine the economic and environmental impacts of integrating hybrid rye into organic pig production systems. The announced investment is $1.43 million.

Examples of the 11 funded Organic Transitions Program grants include:

  • The University of Wisconsin will lead a multi-state, multi-disciplinary project to implement a systems approach to overcome challenges faced by growers transitioning to organic strawberry production, aiming to increase and sustain organic day-neutral strawberry production in the Upper Midwest. The announced investment is $525,000.
  • Oregon State University will use essential oils to develop products to suppress or prevent potato sprouting in organic potatoes to address an important industry issue related to organic potato storage and control of premature sprouting. The announced investment is $595,000.
  • Middle Tennessee State University will evaluate the effectiveness of biological control microbial agents and botanical extracts on fungal disease prevention and treatment for organic American Ginseng production. The announced investment is $455,000. 

Above, Carrie Castille is the director of the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Photo: USDA/Preston Keres


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