NIFA supports U.S. organic ag research

by Holly Demaree
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WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is offering $17.6 million in grants focused on organic agriculture research, education, and extension activities. These grants are funded through a competitive process by NIFA’s Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“America’s organic industry continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of U.S. agriculture,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of NIFA. “NIFA strives to support the development and deployment of science-based best knowledge and practices to organic producers to help them grow their businesses while solving critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems.”

The OREI supports research, education, and extension programs that enhance the ability of producers and processors who already have adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. Priority areas include biological, physical, and social science research, including economics. Funded projects will aid farmers and ranchers with whole-farm planning by delivering practical, research-based information to improve their ability to develop an Organic System Plan required for certification.

Eligible entities include land-grant and other research universities, federal agencies, national laboratories, state agricultural experiment stations, research foundations, and other private researchers.
 
Applications must be received by March 1, 2018.

Previously funded projects include research for the University of Wyoming experiential learning curriculum, which merged science-based theory and real-life applications in order to expose learners to the diversity of farming opportunities across the United States. Interviews with 19 organic instructors from universities and colleges showed that social justice and livestock production were among the least covered topics. 

See the OREI funding opportunity for additional information.
 
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