USDA funds extension efforts with land-grant universities across the country. Additionally, USDA funds several research efforts that support the continued growth of organic agriculture and that address critical issues within the industry.
Research Grants for Organizations
USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture offers two research grant programs dedicated to organic agriculture:
- The Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) helps solve critical organic agriculture issues through research, education, and extension activities. NIFA provides summaries of funded OREI projects online.
- The Organic Transitions Program (ORG) strives to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices, through research, extension, and higher education. NIFA provides summaries of funded ORG projects as well.
The Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SARE) provides a variety of competitive grants for research, education, and outreach activities that support sustainable agricultural systems. The program encourages site-specific experimentation, and many grants have focused on organic production or marketing.
Risk management education and outreach partnerships from USDA's Risk Management Agency ensure that producers get the information they need to effectively manage their risk through difficult periods and remain productive.
Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) from the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service are competitive grants that stimulate innovative approaches and technologies for conservation on agricultural lands.
USDA Research on Organic
The Agricultural Research Service is USDA's principal in-house scientific research agency, responsible for developing solutions to a wide range of agricultural problems that affect Americans every day, from field to table. Currently, the Agricultural System Competitiveness and Sustainability National Program (NP-216) coordinates ARS's organic agriculture portfolio, which is summarized in their 2013-2017 action plan. Since research applicable to organic agriculture cuts across many national programs, over the years existing research projects have taken on organic objectives as a part of their existing portfolios. Highlights of ARS' organic research include:
- The Beltsville Farming Systems Project is a long-term agricultural research site which evaluates agronomic, environmental and economic sustainability in Maryland. Access recent Cavigelli publications.
- The Strategies to Improve Soil and Pest Management in Organic Vegetable and Strawberry Production Systems Project measures long-term effects of a cover crops on weeds, soil quality, yields, profitability on California's central coast. Download publications and recent presentations related to this project.
- The Cropping Systems for Enhanced Sustainability and Environmental Quality in the Upper Midwest Project assesses the impact of organic and conventional cropping systems on water quality, nutrient- and water-use efficiency, soil C storage, and soil health in Iowa. Access recent Cambardella publications.
USDA provides additional resources on organic certification and farming practices through organic training and transition assistance.