December 2, 2010
On November 30, 2010, USDA’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released the FY 2011 Request for Applications (RFA) for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), USDA’s flagship competitive grants program for organic agriculture research, education, and extension. Applications are due February 10, 2011.
This year, OREI anticipates that $19 million will be available for new grants, the same amount as 2010. There were 26 awards made last year, ranging from $31,000 to nearly $3 million. OREI grants fund several categories of projects, from planning and conference grants that receive no more than $50,000, eXtension proposals receiving up to $1,000,000 and integrated project proposals qualifying for up to $3,000,000. See more details about 2011 project types, or get the abstracts of funded projects dating back to 2004.
The 2011 RFA includes one new program priority, which focuses on strengthening organic seed systems through plant breeding and selection. Several 2010 priorities have been omitted in the 2011 RFA, including evaluating carbon sequestration in organic systems, cataloging germplasm from heirloom organic varieties, and evaluating the nutritional value of organic products as compared with conventionally-grown products.
Other 2011 priorities, which have remained largely the same from 2010, include on-farm research and development emphasizing innovation for organic farms, developing and demonstrating educational tools for Cooperative Extension personnel, improving food safety practices for both plant- and animal-based organic products, and developing and improving systems-based integrated pest management programs for organic crops. See the 2011 RFA for more information on program priorities.
New applicants to USDA grants are encouraged to begin an account with Grants.gov as soon as possible to avoid last minute delays and complications with the online registration process, which can take up to 2 weeks to complete.
Read more about OREI program basics in our Grassroots Guide to the 2008 Farm Bill.