USDA announces $21.4m for organic research

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released details of 26 grants that will help organic farmers and ranchers improve business operations and bring more organic food to the table. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the grants on September at the New York Times Food for Tomorrow Conference in Pocantico Hills, N.Y. The grants are funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions Program (ORG).

“America’s organic industry continues to grow and is an increasingly viable option for farmers and ranchers,” said NIFA Director Sonny Ramaswamy. “USDA supports research, education and extension to give organic producers science-based best-practices, helping them grow their business by contributing to a healthy America.”
The USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service’s recently released 2015 Certified Organic Survey showed that the number of certified farms, acres and sales were all up and the 12,818 certified organic farms in the U.S. sold $6.2 billion in organic products, up 13 percent over 2014. 
OREI investments totaling $17,640,143 in 18 projects will help existing organic producers grow and market high-quality products. These projects give farmers, ranchers and processers more insight into the science and economics of successful organic production.
One of this year’s planning grant recipients, Oregon State University, received $250,000 to develop an online graduate certificate program in organic agriculture. Another award of $1.9 million will go to the Regents of the University of California to conduct a multi-regional analysis on soil health and food safety in organic crop production. 

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