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By: sustainableag , 1:00 PM GMT on March 18, 2014
After a year-long hiatus, NSAC is pleased to report that the cornerstone organic research program is once again up and running — with $20 million in funding to award in 2014!! Yesterday, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) released its 2014 Request for Applications (RFA) for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI).
OREI is the flagship research competitive grants program dedicated to funding research that is relevant to organic producers — such as organic methods of pest and weed control and fertility management. OREI provides research, education, and extension grants to academic, private, non-profit, and government research institutions to research issues that can benefit producers and processors of organic products. Click here to read more about how OREI benefits organic farmers across the county.
Applications are due by 5:00 PM EST on May 8, 2014 — which is a somewhat compressed schedule from previous funding cycles due to the late appropriation of funding that came with the farm bill that was reauthorized earlier this year (if you’re not planning on applying, consider serving as a peer reviewer of submitted applications!).
Approximately $20 million will be available for 2014, which is the same level of funding that was provided by the 2008 Farm Bill. Both new applications and resubmitted applications will be considered, including integrated research, education, and extension grants as well as conference and analytical grants which support workshops and activities to identify research needs of organic producers and advance the understanding of organic issues using a systems based approach.
Matching funds are required for this grant program (cash or in-kind), but the requirement can be waived at NIFA’s discretion. However, for future funding cycles, it is expected that the new matching grant provision written into the 2014 Farm Bill will be enacted. This new policy will exempt Land-Grant institutions from all matching requirements, but require non-Land Grant applicants to come up with 100% matching funds in order to be eligible to even apply for funding through OREI. This will certainly result in fewer proposals being led by non-profit and farmer-driven research organizations from being successful in securing funding through OREI, or any other federally administered competitive research program.
2014 OREI Priorities
For this year’s funding cycle, research, education, and extension projects will be solicited that address any of the eight specific legislatively defined goals of OREI, as follows:
1. Facilitating the development and improvement of organic agriculture production, breeding, and processing methods.
2. Evaluating the potential economic benefits to organic agricultural production and methods to producers, processors, and rural communities.
3. Exploring international trade opportunities for organically grown and processed agricultural commodities.
4. Determining desirable traits for organic commodities.
5. Identifying marketing and policy constraints on the expansion of organic agriculture.
6. 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.
7. Examining optimal conservation and environmental outcomes relating to organically produced agricultural products.
8. Developing new and improved seed varieties that are particularly suited for organic agriculture.
The following types of research projects will be given priority consideration for FY 2014:
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