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USDA-NIFA announces Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)

USDA-NIFA announces Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)

Deadline: 30 January 2020

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), is seeking applications for its Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).

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The OREI seeks to solve critical organic agricultural issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research, education and extension activities. The purpose of this program is to fund high priority integrated projects that will enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. Priority concerns include biological, physical, and social sciences, including economics.

The OREI has eight goals that were legislatively-defined by the Farm Bill:

  • Facilitating the development and improvement of organic agriculture production, breeding, and processing methods.
  • Evaluating the potential economic benefits of organic agricultural production and methods to producers, processors, and rural communities.
  • Exploring international trade opportunities for organically grown and processed agricultural commodities.
  • Determining desirable traits for organic commodities.
  • Identifying marketing and policy constraints on the expansion of organic agriculture.
  • Conducting advanced on-farm research and development that emphasizes observation of, experimentation with, and innovation for working organic farms, including research relating to production, marketing, food safety, socioeconomic conditions, and farm business management.
  • Examining optimal conservation, soil health, and environmental outcomes relating to organically produced agricultural products.
  • Developing new and improved seed varieties that are particularly suited for organic agriculture.


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  • Conduct advanced on-farm crop, livestock, or integrated livestock-crop research and development that emphasize observation of, experimentation with, and innovation for organic farms, including production, marketing, and socioeconomic considerations. These issues could include both identification of factors reducing yields, efficiency, productivity, and economic returns on organic farms and the economic and socioeconomic contributions of organic farming to producers, processors and local communities. This priority includes studies that help producers monitor and improve soil health and fertility.
  • Develop and demonstrate educational tools for Cooperative Extension personnel and other professionals who advise producers on organic practices. Applications bringing end-users together with OREI-funded research, education, and extension teams are encouraged. Coordination of the development of online content with eXtension and the eOrganic Community of Practice is encouraged, but is not a requirement for a successful application.
  • For both plant and animal–based organic products: evaluate, develop, and improve allowable post-harvest handling, processing, and food safety practices to reduce toxins and microbial contamination, while increasing shelf-life, quality, and other economically important characteristics.
  • Strengthen organic crop propagation systems, including seed and transplant production and protection, and plant breeding for organic production conditions, with an emphasis on publicly available releases. Goals of organic breeding and propagation systems proposals can include, but are not limited to: disease, weed, and pest resistance; stress tolerance; nutrient use efficiency; performance in soil improving and climate-friendly systems such as organic no-till; quality and yield improvement; and genetic mechanisms to prevent inadvertent introduction of GMO traits through cross-pollination. This priority includes cover crop breeding for enhanced performance in organic systems. Projects dealing solely with cultivar evaluation do not fit under this priority.
  • Explore technologies that meet the requirements of the National Organic Program (NOP) and protect soil, water, and other natural resources. This includes developing, improving, and evaluating systems-based integrated management programs to address diseases, nematodes, weeds and insect pests-related problems for organically grown crops. Systems-based evaluations can include the safety and efficacy of allowable pest management materials and practices. Proposals addressing organic management of diseases, nematodes, weeds, and insect pests in the Southern Region are especially encouraged.
  • Develop or improve systems-based animal production, animal health, and pest management practices to improve animal productivity, health, and welfare while retaining or enhancing economic viability, including, but not limited to: grazing and pasture-based systems (including rotational grazing), integrated livestock crop systems, and the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) confinement standards.
  • Breed, evaluate, and select animal breeds and genotypes adapted to organic systems. This would include but is not restricted to: identification of and selection for pest, parasite, and disease resistance; health and performance under organic pasture and feed regimens such as management intensive rotational grazing and multispecies grazing; and performance in small, mixed, or other innovative farming operations.
  • Develop new undergraduate and/or graduate curriculum for organic agriculture. Education activities under this priority may include instructional delivery programs and experiential learning for students enrolled in associate, baccalaureate, masters, and Ph.D. degree programs.
  • Identify marketing, policy, and other socioeconomic barriers to the expansion of organic agriculture in the United States and develop strategies to address them. Lobbying and advocacy activities are not appropriate under this priority.

Award Information

  • Estimated Total Program Funding: $20,000,000
  • Award Ceiling: $2,000,000
  • Award Floor: $50,000

Eligible Applicants

  • Applications may only be submitted by the following entities:
    • State agricultural experiment stations;
    • Colleges and universities;
    • University research foundations;
    • Other research institutions and organizations;
    • Federal agencies;
    • National laboratories;
    • Private organizations, foundations, or corporations;
    • Individuals who are United States citizens or nationals;
  • Award recipients may subcontract to organizations not eligible to apply provided such organizations are necessary for the conduct of the project.
  • Failure to meet an eligibility criterion by the application deadline may result in the application being excluded from consideration or, even though an application may be reviewed, will preclude NIFA from making an award.

For more information, visit https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=322750

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