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Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI)


Family farmers, researchers, and advocates like the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) helped to achieve historic victories for the organic and research communities in the 2018 Farm Bill. Of particular significance was the establishment of permanent, mandatory funding for the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) over the next five years. This funding increase will bolster long-term research for organic systems, and lead to the development of new tools and practices that can help organic farmers be more competitive in a changing global market.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), which administers OREI, recently announced both the FY 2019 and FY 2020 Requests for Applications (RFAs). OREI grants fund research, education, and extension projects that improve and advance organic agriculture. The 2018 Farm Bill continues the program’s historical funding priorities and adds a new priority on soil health. Projects applying under the new soil health priority will need to “examine optimal conservation, soil health, and environmental outcomes relating to organically produced agricultural products.”

For FY 2019 applications, the deadline to apply is May 2, 2019. Applicants for FY 2020 will have another ten months to complete and submit their applications, which are due January 23, 2020. Although releasing RFAs for two fiscal years at once is unprecedented, it is our understanding that this decision was made to avoid possible delays in releasing future RFAs, due to the proposed move of NIFA from the Washington Capital Area.

Both the FY 2019 and FY 2020 RFAs will have $20 million to award, as set by the 2018 Farm Bill. However, unless Congress negotiates a budget deal to exempt farm bill programs like OREI from automatic sequestration cuts, the actual amount of grant funding available will be closer to $16 million.

NOTE - NIFA has released BOTH the FY19 and FY20 RFAs at the same time - hence 2 different deadlines.

  • Blog post - highlights deadlines and priority areas for FY19 and FY20