Secretary Tom Vilsack: $17.6 million for agriculture research
The grants are being funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI), a program that is administered by USDA's National Institutes of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.
"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," said Secretary Vilsack.
"The projects funded through the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative will help identify innovative solutions to critical challenges facing organic agriculture, ultimately strengthening local markets, improving rural economies and expanding access to healthy food for Americans."
The purpose of the OREI program is to fund high-priority research, education, and extension projects that enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic products.
Priority concerns include biological, physical, and social sciences, including economics.
Secretary Vilsack also announced the availability of $40 million to help ranchers and other partners in 11 western states restore and protect sagebrush habitat for greater sage-grouse on privately-owned land.
This investment is part of USDA's four-year, $211 million Sage Grouse Initiative 2.0 through the Working Lands for Wildlife (WLFW) partnership.
The WLFW partnership uses seven focus species, including sage grouse, to steer public and private conservation investments that improve struggling landscapes and strengthen agricultural operations. ■