February 15, 2013
On Friday February 8, 2013 the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture announced the release of its FY2013 Organic Transitions Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Program (ORG) Request for Applications (RFA). The overall goal of the ORG 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. The total program funding for FY2013 was set at $3.7 million with individual awards capped at $750,000.
It is important to note the ORG Award funding is separate from the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). OREI was one of the many programs left stranded in the disastrous New Year’s Eve Farm Bill Extension and remains unfunded. The funds made available through the ORG award represent a fraction of the government’s previous commitment to organic research. OREI, for example, had $20 million in FY 2012.
In FY 2013, ORG will continue to prioritize environmental services provided by organic farming systems in the area of soil conservation and climate change mitigation, including greenhouse gases (GHG). Two new priorities have been added to support (1) the development of educational tools for Cooperative Extension personnel and other agricultural professionals who advise producers on organic practices and (2) the 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.