May 25, 2010
USDA is making $4.7 million available through the Organic Transitions integrated research, education, and extension program to fund projects examining environmental services provided by organic agriculture that contribute to climate change mitigation and support soil conservation.
The Request for Applications (RFA) prioritizes two areas of much-needed research:
1. Documenting and understanding the effects of organic practices on soil quality, erosion, and carbon sequestration; and
2. Developing improved technologies, methods, models, and metrics to document and optimize the environmental services and climate change mitigation ability of organic farming systems.
In general, the Organic Transitions program provides a specialized complement to the more general purposes of the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and, unlike OREI, can fund the development of formal education activities (e.g., curriculum development).
The focus of this year’s RFA on environmental services and climate change mitigation is timely given the ecological basis for organic systems and the significant role that organic agriculture is poised to play in combating climate change.
Unfortunately, the program was entirely eliminated in the President’s FY 2011 budget proposal, and unless Congress rejects the cut, funding for organic research will be significantly diminished. With this proposed cut, funding for organic research would be approximately 1.3% of the budget of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, despite the fact that 3.5% of food products sold in the U.S. are sold under the organic label.
To stay informed and take action on preventing these cuts, sign-up for NSAC’s action alerts.
The deadline for submissions to ORG is July 1, 2010. To access the Organic Transitions RFA, click here.