USDA Funding Available

The Organic Transitions Program

USDA's National Institute for Food and Agriculture is now accepting applications for the Organic Transitions Program (ORG). ORG is a competitive grants program funding research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices. This year, $3.8 million in funding is available, and grants of up to $500,000 are awarded. Approximately 38% of applications receive funding.

Program Requirements and Eligibility
ORG is one of two USDA programs solely dedicated to organic research, education, and extension (OREI is the other program.) Unlike OREI, however, this program is only open to colleges and universities. Projects must include stakeholder (including farmer) engagement and must have two of the following three activities: research, education, and extension. All research must be conducted on certified organic land. Applications must be submitted by Friday, April 15, 2016.

ORG was established in the 1998 Farm Bil, which gave the Secretary of Agriculture broad authority to develop a competitive grants program that provides funding for integrated, multifunctional agricultural research, extension, and education activities. The program has never received mandatory funding from the Farm Bill and thus relies on annual appropriations for funding. In recent years it has received between $4 to $5 million a year.

Since 2005, ORG has funded 48 projects, 8 of which have been in the NESAWG region. Projects funded in our region include research on:

  • Reducing off-farm grain inputs in Northeast organic dairy farms at the University of Maine in Orono, ME
  • Cover cropping optimization for enhanced agronomic and environmental benefits at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY
  • Soil Carbon Sequestration in long-term rotational systems at the University of Maryland in College Park, MD.

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