February 6, 2014
The USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture has announced the release of its FY2014 Organic Transitions Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Program (ORG) Request for Applications (RFA).
The overall goal of the Organic Transitions program is to support the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices.
In FY 2014, ORG funding will prioritize four areas:
• Documenting and understanding the effects of organic practices (such as crop rotation, cover crops, mulch and compost) on ecosystem services, greenhouse gas reduction, soil health, and biodiversity (including pollinator health).
• Improvements to technologies and models that optimize the environmental services and climate change mitigation ability of organic farming systems.
• Development of educational tools for students, Cooperative Extension personnel and other agricultural professionals who advise producers on organic practices.
• Development of cultural practices and other allowable alternatives to substances recommended for removal from the National Organic Programs National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances. Practices and systems to be addressed include those associated with organic crops, organic animal production, and organic systems integrating plant and animal production.
All projects must integrate research, education, and extension activities. Only colleges and universities are eligible for this program. If you have ideas for needed research projects but are not a university researchers, consider reaching out to your colleges or universities in your area. Please note that all project applications are expected to show evidence of stakeholder (including farmer) involvement in problem identification, planning, implementation, and evaluation.
The total program funding for FY2014 has been set at $3.7 million with individual awards capped at not more than $200,000 a year and not more than $500,000 in total over up to three years. The applications deadline is April 4, 2014. For full details, please read the RFA.
The Organic Transition program is separate from, but coordinated with, the much larger Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). OREI funding was not available in 2013, but the new farm bill that will become law tomorrow will provide $20 million a year for the program for each of the next five years, starting with 2014. Look for announcements about the OREI RFA later this year.