USDA announces funding for organic agriculture research

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last week that more than $66.5 million of funding is available for research and extension activities, which will help address the needs of America’s specialty crop industry and solve organic agricultural production issues.

The grants will be funded through the Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) and the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). Both programs are managed by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and made available through the 2014 Farm Bill.

"The projects funded by these programs will build on USDA support for local and regional markets,” Vilsack said. “And strengthening local markets grows the rural economy while improving access to healthy food for millions of children and supplying farmers markets, restaurants and other businesses with fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables."

Projects funded by the SCRI grant must address research and extension needs for crops that span the entire spectrum of specialty crops production. SCRI pre-applications are due March 30; there is more than $51 million in funding available.

Projects funded by the OREI grant must be high-priority research, education and extension projects that improve the capability of producers and processors that have adopted organic standards. A notification of application intent is due by April 1. There is more than $19 million in funding available.