Grants to fund organic farmers, ranchers

by Eric Schroeder
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The NIFA has awarded 24 grants to help farmers and ranchers grow and market organic food, fiber and other products.
WASHINGTON – The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has awarded 24 grants totaling $20.15 million for fiscal 2017 to help farmers and ranchers grow and market organic food, fiber and other products. The grants are funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and Organic Transitions Program (ORG).

Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the NIFA

“Organic farming is one of many approaches to make American agriculture sustainable and responsive to consumer demand,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, director of the NIFA. “These NIFA investments help develop tools necessary for traditional farmers to pursue organic farming and help boost the economic gains for existing organic farmers and ranchers.”

The OREI funds research, education and extension projects to help improve yields, quality and profitability for producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards. The NIFA awarded 16 grants totaling $16.49 million through the OREI program.

The ORG supports research, education and extension efforts to help existing and transitioning organic livestock and crop producers improve their competitiveness and adopt organic practices. The NIFA awarded eight grants totaling $3.66 million through the ORG program.

Grants for both programs are made through a competitive peer review process involving an external panel of experts.

Among the projects, Oregon State Univ. researchers will develop and test a breed of naked barley as an economically viable alternative crop with multiple uses in brewing, livestock feed and human diets. A Lincoln University project will determine the economic viability of different types of cover crop-based, no-till systems for small- and mid-size organic producers.

To date, the NIFA has awarded more than $183 million through the OREI and ORG programs.

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