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Funding Available for Organic Research

January 17, 2012


On Tuesday, January 17th, 2012, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced the release of its 2012 Request for Applications (RFA) for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), which provides grants to academic, private, and non-profit research institutions to investigate research issues related to organic production.  Applications are due on March 9th, 2012, and approximately $19 million is available.

OREI is USDA’s flagship competitive research grants program dedicated to the investigation of organic systems.  OREI funds research and extension projects that provide the information that producers and processors need to be successful, improve their farming systems, and grow and market high quality organic agricultural products.

OREI has eight legislatively-defined goals, including:

  1. Facilitating the development of organic agriculture production, breeding, and processing methods.
  2. Evaluating the potential economic benefits to producers and processors who use organic methods.
  3. Exploring international trade opportunities for organically grown and processed agricultural commodities.
  4. Determining desirable traits for organic commodities.
  5. Identifying marketing and policy constraints on the expansion of organic agriculture.
  6. Conducting advanced on-farm research and development that emphasizes observation of, experimentation with, and innovation for working organic farms, including research relating to production and marketing and to socioeconomic conditions.
  7. Examining optimal conservation and environmental outcomes relating to organically produced agricultural products.
  8. Developing new and improved seed varieties that are particularly suited for organic agriculture.

Some changes to the FY 2012 Request for Applications:

  • There will be a new project type offered to support development of data products and analytics on the impacts of research and extension activities funded by the Integrated Organic Program (Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative and Organic Transitions Program) on the organic industry.
  • No planning grants will be offered this year.
  • A new priority is included in this year’s RFA to fund projects that develop cultural practices and other allowable alternatives to substances recommended for removal from the National Organic Program’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.

NIFA will be accepting feedback on how future RFAs can be improved.  See page 2 of the RFA for more information on submitting public comments.

OREI is set to expire on Sept 30th, 2012, and must be reauthorized in order to be offered again next year.  NSAC and our allies in the organic sector have long been champions of this program, and will be working hard to advocate for its reauthorization with mandatory funding in the upcoming farm bill debate.  We will be counting on our members and network of organic producers and consumers who depend on the research outcomes of this program to speak up for this vital research program, and make sure their legislators know the value of federal investments in research on organic production methods.

For more information on the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, see our Grassroots Guide.  To apply for funding, click here.


Categories: Farm Bill, Grants and Programs, Organic Farming, Research, Education & Extension


One Response to “Funding Available for Organic Research”

  1. Stephen Murphy says:

    Organic Farming for High Demand Products, Domestic and Export
    As a first time farmer I am very interested in obtaining help, technical and financial (as I am in an economic state below poverty, due to Medical Bills and a Disability), I have some very good ideas to produce, through Agrofoerstry techniques, products from trees, and then using Alleycropping other products, perhaps for biofuels, or perhaps for organic production of other foods.
    Knowing the land I have to work with I realize there may be some possibilities of erosion or water degradation, however I have some ideas to use swales to help contain runoff of water and soil, also utilizing the rich soil from pond restoration to grow in, and truck in red clay for the levee buildup I need.
    Below said levess I plan on a series of pools, planted with native trees, cypress, mast producing water oaks,some native grasses, warm season hative grasses, to filter water and help stop the potential water degradation, actually creating an extremely healthy ecosystem. Then I would like to create some more wetlands in a creek bottom and plant grains, organically, that would attract waterfowl, allowing both organic production of possible biofuel crops like sorghum, switchgrass, millet, while creating an additional income stream for the whole operation that would support healthy enough numbers of migratory federally managed waterfowl for hunting of ducks, to help round out the opoerations winter income. Additonally the intoduction of 10 to 20 beehives to assist in the national rebuilding of our pollinators, which will be very important for the organic Agroforestry project. Finally, an experimental on the farm smallscale ethanol plant to produce fuel for farm use or sale to a biofuel plant, using the grains grown in about 8 acres near the wetlands, and perhaps in an Alleycropping program on other acreage that is in pine forest at present, but I want ot expand to Agroforestry uses, either for growing potential non food sources for biofuel production, or for organic , small scalle production of beef for direct marketing at farmers markets and CSA. I need help in putting together the different federal programs these ideas qualigfy for. Is it possible to get a response on this idea to take what was a private non industrial forestland, not harvested, and totally destroyed by tornado in April of 2011.
    Here we have organic, farming, Agroforestry, Export Organic Production, Domestic Organic production, Alleycropping, Water and wetllands enhancement which would stop the possible water degradation of the operation, on farm Tourism, pollinator enhancements, and biofuels production or primary production thru distilling non food biofuels sources of ethanol production, all wrapped up in a First Time Farmer /Rancher , sustainable organic small farm. There could be Employment for helping rural development. Seeking grant, cost share of starting these measures, technical assistance, conservation program affiliation to increase money/acre. Will need also low cost loan for economicalyy disadvantaged. All this is in response to Natural Disaster,destruction of acreage in tornado.

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