The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) is investing over $30 million for 33 grants that support farmers and ranchers who grow and market high-quality organic food, fiber and other organic products. This investment is part of NIFA’s Organic Agriculture Program.
NIFA’s investment in Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative projects will help fund research, education and extension projects to improve yields, quality and profitability for producers and processors who have adopted organic standards. NIFA’s investment in Organic Transitions Program projects will support research, education and extension efforts to help existing and transitioning organic livestock and crop producers adopt organic practices and improve their market competitiveness.
“As we work together to build a diverse, resilient and robust agricultural supply chain and ensure nutrition security for all Americans, these grants will support research and extension efforts at local universities to provide valuable information and training, especially for local, small farmers, and producers,” said NIFA Director Dr. Carrie Castille.
Examples of the 22 funded Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative grants include:
- The demand for organic rice in the U.S. exceeds domestic supply and leads to significant import competition. University of Arkansas will lead efforts to expand organic rice production in the U.S. and develop a multistate outreach program to share information generated by this project. ($456,111)
- University of Vermont will work with both the organic dairy industry and the organic aquaculture industry to further develop a partnership for feeding organic seaweed to cows, while financially benefiting both markets in a sustainable manner. ($2,900,000)
- To help drive down expensive organic pig production feed and bedding costs and reduce negative environmental impacts, University of Minnesota will develop strategies to optimize winter hybrid rye production, evaluate nutritional value of hybrid rye fed to pigs, determine its effects on meat quality, and examine the economic and environmental impacts of integrating hybrid rye into organic pig production systems. ($1,433,820)
Examples of the 11 funded Organic Transitions Program grants include:
- University of Wisconsin will lead a multi-state, multi-disciplinary project to implement a systems approach to overcome challenges faced by growers transitioning to organic strawberry production, aiming to increase and sustain organic day-neutral strawberry production in the Upper Midwest. ($525,000)
- Oregon State University will use essential oils to develop products to suppress or prevent potato sprouting in organic potatoes to address an important industry issue related to organic potato storage and control of premature sprouting. ($595,000)
- Middle Tennessee State University will evaluate the effectiveness of biological control microbial agents and botanical extracts on fungal disease prevention and treatment for organic American Ginseng production. ($455,000)
NIFA invests in and advances agricultural research, education, and Extension across the nation to make transformative discoveries that solve societal challenges. NIFA supports initiatives that ensure the long-term viability of agriculture and applies an integrated approach to ensure that groundbreaking discoveries in agriculture-related sciences and technologies reach the people who can put them into practice. In FY2020, NIFA’s total investment was $1.95 billion.