USDA FUnding Available

The Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative

The USDA is now accepting applications for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). OREI is a competitive grants program funding research, extension, and education projects to enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. Approximately $18 million in funding is available, and grants typically range from $50,000 - $200,000. About 24% of applications receive funding.

Program Requirements and Eligibility
Entities eligible for funding include colleges, universities, state agriculture experiment stations, research institutions and organizations, private institutions or corporations, federal agencies, national laboratories, and individuals. All fieldwork must be done on certified organic land or land transitioning to organic. Farmers must be involved in the the design and implementation of the project and projects must have a local or regional advisory panel. Applications must be submitted by March 10, 2016.

OREI is the largest federal program solely dedicated to funding organic agriculture research, extension, and education. The program was established in the 2002 Farm Bill with $3 million annually in mandatory funding and has been awarding grants since 2004. Congress increased funding in the 2008 Farm Bill to $20 million per year and kept funding at that same level in the most recent Farm Bill, passed in 2014.

In total, USDA has funded 164 projects since the program's inception, 38 of which are in the NESAWG 12 state region. Projects funded in our region include:

  • Research projects on reducing tillage in organic systems, at Cornell University in New York and Penn State University
  • A planning network of organic dairy producers, researchers, and processors focused on improving forage production at the University System in New Hampshire
  • Research to improve organic grain production at the USDA Agricultural Research Center in Beltsville, Maryland

More Info

Photo: Freeville Organic Research Farm at Cornell University Agriculture Experiment Station
Photo Credit: Cornell University Agriculture Experiment Station