Funding Available for Organic Research
January 17th, 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:
- Facilitating the development of organic agriculture production, breeding, and processing methods.
- Evaluating the potential economic benefits to producers and processors who use organic methods.
- Exploring international trade opportunities for organically grown and processed agricultural commodities.
- Determining desirable traits for organic commodities.
- Identifying marketing and policy constraints on the expansion of organic agriculture.
- 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.
- Examining optimal conservation and environmental outcomes relating to organically produced agricultural products.
- 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.