USDA announces $3.8 million available to help producers transition to organic farming

WASHINGTON, Jan. 13, 2016 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the availability of $3.8 million to support research, education, and extension projects that will assist current organic producers and those transitioning into organic farming. The funding is available through the Organic Transitions Program, administered by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

“The overall goal of the Organic Transitions Program is to support the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs and improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices,” said NIFA Director Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy. “Since 2009, NIFA has awarded more than $25 million to fund projects and programs that enhance, train, and inform the organic community.”

Previous projects funded through the Organics Transitions Program include research from University of Illinois into multipurpose data and information systems that will allow farmers to improve organic managements, increase profitability, and protect the environment. Another project from the University of New Hampshire aims to provide organic dairy farmers and the organic dairy industry with science-based information and decision support systems on grazing practices that maximize soil carbon sequestration and minimize soil greenhouse gas losses.

Priority concerns for fiscal year 2016 funding include:

  1. Documenting and understanding the effects of organic practices such as crop rotation, livestock-crop integration, organic manure, mulch and/or compost additions, cover crops, and reduced or conservation tillage on ecosystem services, greenhouse gas mitigation, and biodiversity.
  2. Improving technologies, methods, model development, and other metrics to document, describe, and optimize the environmental services and climate change mitigation ability of organic farming systems.
  3. Developing cultural practices and other allowable alternatives to substances recommended for removal from NOP’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
  4. Addressing major barriers that limit the transition to organic agriculture in a given region or specific crop or animal production systems.

Applications are due April 15. Please see the request for applications for specific program requirements.

Over the past six years, USDA has strengthened programs that support organic producers as they grow, thrive and respond to increasing consumer demand for organic products. The USDA organic seal has become a leading global standard. In the United States, there are now 19,474 certified USDA organic operations, representing nearly an over 250% increase since 2002. Worldwide, there are nearly 28,000 certified organic operations in more than 120 different countries. More information about USDA’s support under this Administration for organic producers can be found at