Sep 29, 2016
USDA awards $21.4 million for organic research, Extension
Ana Olvera

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released details of 26 grants that will help organic farmers and ranchers improve business operations and bring more organic food to the table. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grants at the New York Times Food for Tomorrow Conference in Pocantico Hills, New York. The grants are funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions Program (ORG).

The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s recently released 2015 Certified Organic Survey showed that the number of certified farms, acres and sales were all up and the 12,818 certified organic farms in the U.S. sold $6.2 billion in organic products, up 13 percent over 2014. Certified organic products in the U.S. include a wide range of goods from dairy and meat to fruits, vegetables and grains.  

OREI investments totaling $17,640,143 in 18 projects will help existing organic producers grow and market high-quality products. These projects give farmers, ranchers and processers more insight into the science and economics of successful organic production.  

One of this year’s planning grant recipients, Oregon State University, received $250,000 to develop an online graduate certificate program in organic agriculture. Another award of $1.9 million will go to the Regents of the University of California to conduct a multi-regional analysis on soil health and food safety in organic crop production.  2016 OREI recipients include:  

  • Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama, $2,000,000
  • Regents of the University of California, Davis, California, $1,999,848
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, $49,983
  • USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Peoria, Illinois, $1,999,979
  • Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, $999,917
  • Regents of the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, $1,400,940
  • Regents of the University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, $1,523,708
  • USDA, Agricultural Research Service, Southeastern Area, Stoneville, Mississippi, $1,991,149
  • Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, $1,000,000
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, $249,810
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon. $44,531
  • Pennsylvania State University, State College, Pennsylvania, $1,192,110
  • Clemson University, Clemson, South Carolina, $999,770
  • Organic Center for Education and Promotion, Brattleboro, Vermont, $50,000
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, $1,999,950
  • Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, $49,915
  • The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, Madison, Wisconsin $49,969
  • The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, Madison, Wisconsin $38,564 

Project details can be found at the NIFA website.

The other $3,777,222 was awarded to eight projects through NIFA’s ORG Program that invests in research, education and extension efforts to help existing and transitioning organic livestock and crop producers improve their competitiveness as well as adopt organic practices. Priority areas for 2016 include research on organic practices such as crop rotation, improved technologies and understanding barriers to organic transition.  

2016 ORG recipients include:

  • Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, $499,990
  • Kansas State University, Manhattan, Kansas, $369,853
  • Board of Regents, University of Nebraska, Lincoln, Nebraska, $499,718
  • University of New Hampshire, Durham, New Hampshire, $499,559
  • The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, $499,415
  • Pennsylvania State University – University Park, City, Pennsylvania, $463,947
  • Texas A&M AgriLife Research, College Station, Texas, $475,000
  • University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont, $469,740

More information on ORG grants is available on the NIFA website.  

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