Find Nonprofit and Small Business Grants

Advance Search

Only Available for Paid Subscribers
Clear Filters
Search Filters

Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grants Program – Organic Transitions

Grants to USA IHEs for Research to Enhance
Organic Crop and Livestock Production

Agency Type:


Funding Source:

Add to My Calendar 

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) - National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)

Deadline Date:

03/29/18 5:00 PM ET Receipt


Request a Grant Writer

Grants to USA IHEs to support research that will enhance the market competitiveness of organic crops and livestock, as well as the adoption of organic farming practices. Projects must involve research, education, and extension activities. Emphasis is placed on research involving environmental services resulting from organic agriculture practices.

Purpose and Priorities:

Practices and systems to be addressed include those associated with organic crops, organic animal production (including dairy), and organic systems that integrate crop and animal production.

ORG strongly encourages applicants to develop partnerships that include collaboration with: small- or mid-sized, accredited colleges and universities; 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, 1994 Land-Grant Institutions, Hispanic-serving institutions, and/or other institutions that serve high-risk, under-served, or hard-to-reach audiences as well as Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that are engaged in organic agriculture research, education, and outreach. International partnerships, linkages, and exchanges that contribute to solving or solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems in the United States are also encouraged.

Applications are expected to contain descriptions of stakeholder involvement in problem identification, planning, implementation, and evaluation. Applicants are strongly encouraged to assemble project teams that include those with expertise in research, education, extension, and evaluation and to utilize a systems approach. Projects should plan to deliver applied production information to producers, students, or their information providers, such as extension agents/educators, agricultural consultants, or college teaching faculty.

Organic agricultural systems and practices provide many ecosystem services, and natural resources stewardship is a key principle in organic farming. For example, the use of cover crops, crop rotation, and erosion control measures; proper manure management; and livestock operation guidelines are cross-compliant with many Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) practice standards. How specific practices and combinations of practices interact in organic systems—including their contributions to conservation outcomes and climate change mitigation potential—is neither well documented nor understood, especially in the case of long-term organic soil management. The most meaningful metrics or models to quantify these services in organic systems are also not clear. A better understanding and documentation of these outcomes will allow for the adjustment of organic practices in order to optimize ecosystem services and to quantify and document those services in the areas of conservation practices, pollinator health, and climate change mitigation, including the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. This information will help farmers better assess the financial benefits and costs of their practices and improve their ability to qualify for current and possible future incentives in the climate change and environmental markets. This process will also help justify consumer expectations that organically-grown and certified food, feed, fiber, or other value-added organic products are produced using the most environmentally-sound and sustainable production practices possible.

To be successful, organic agriculture also needs essential ecosystem processes and
components, such as biodiversity, to be intact. This requires better understanding and assessment of the contribution of organic agricultural systems to maintaining biodiversity. However, for organic agriculture to provide these ecosystem benefits, producers need viable crop and livestock management tools. The National Organic Program (NOP) maintains a list of management tools for certified organic producers. Recommendation for removal of certain tools from the NOP creates the need for research-based alternatives.

Research findings will not have their intended impact on the organic agriculture industry unless they reach and are adopted by producers. Effective extension or other outreach efforts are required. Because few extension tools and other resources are available to organic farmers and ranchers, stakeholders have cited the need for these to help guide transitioning producers and their advisors during this critical period.

Priority Areas for FY 2018: Proposals consistent with the Legislative Authority (See Part A.) will be accepted for the competitive peer review process involving an external panel of experts. NIFA is soliciting applications for ORG under the following areas (not listed in order of importance):

Priority 1: Document and understand the effects of organic practices including, but not limited to, crop rotation; livestock-crop integration; organic manure, mulch, and/or compost additions; cover crops; reduced or conservation tillage on soil health and fertility; ecosystem services; greenhouse gas mitigation; biodiversity; and weeds, pests and diseases dynamics.

Priority 2: Develop improved technologies, methods, models, and metrics to document, describe, and optimize the ecosystem services and the climate variability adaptation and mitigation ability of organic crop, livestock, and integrated crop-livestock production systems.

Priority 3: Develop cultural practices and other allowable alternatives to substances recommended for removal from NOP’s National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances This may include effective substitutes or new technologies, cultural practices, cultivars, or breeds that render the NOP-cited substance in question less limiting to production under organic growing conditions. Studies of alternatives should include evaluation of efficacy based on resulting productivity, profitability, and natural resources stewardship effects. NIFA encourages a sustainable whole-systems approach, but will also consider proposals that are narrower in scope.

Priority 4: Develop practical information and tools to help producers overcome barriers to organic transition. Projects under this priority should address major barriers that limit the transition to organic agriculture in a specific region, crop, or animal production systems. These can include, but are not limited to, production challenges during the transition period, local and regional infrastructure constraints, marketplace challenges, and administrative or policy barriers. Any constraint must be acknowledged by growers and other stakeholders. Proposals to improve organic animal or crop management strategies and production systems should be submitted to the Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI). Lobbying and advocacy activities do not fit under this priority.

Important Notes for All Priorities:

1) Fieldwork to set up treatments or collect data on organic practices must be done on certified
organic land. Refer to the USDA National Organic Program link 5 for organic production standards. However, as appropriate to project objectives, comparisons can include land in transition to organic certification and land not managed using organic practices. If land in transition is to be used, documentation should be provided from the certifying agent confirming a transition plan has been developed and is in progress. In addition, the use of conventional production technologies (including the use of GMOs) for comparative purposes or proof of concept is permissible, if cross-contamination with the organic and transitional treatments is prevented.

2) Projects should use combinations of research plus education and/or extension activities and describe expected outcomes and impacts. All projects must develop and implement an evaluation plan that captures project outcomes and demonstrates the impact of the project. The evaluation section should describe how the project evaluator or evaluation team will determine whether project goals have been met and their impacts. Evaluation should be based on benchmarks, indicators, or expected outcomes related to project goals and activities. Project goals are expected to be related to immediate, short-term, and intermediate-term expected changes that result from the project activities and measured outputs, outcomes, and impacts. The budget must include adequate resources for project evaluation, and evaluation procedures must be adequately described in the methods section.

Project Types:

Integrated projects aim to resolve problems through the application of science-based knowledge and address needs identified by stakeholders. Integrated projects clearly identify anticipated outcomes and have a plan for evaluating and documenting the success of the project. ORG projects should include Research and at least one of the other two functions of the agricultural knowledge system (extension, and education) focused around a problem or issue; however, single-function projects with sufficient justification will be considered. The functions addressed in the project should: be interwoven throughout the life of the project; complement and reinforce each other; and be interdependent and necessary for the success of the project. Integrated projects must include a data management plan that clearly describes how the data will be disseminated and accessible to the public.

GrantWatch ID#:

GrantWatch ID#: 182886

Estimated Total Program Funding:


Number of Grants:

NIFA expects to make a total of seven to eight awards.

Estimated Size of Grant:

Budgets may not exceed $200,000 per year with the total amount awarded not to exceed $500,000.

Term of Contract:

ORG anticipates funding standard Integrated Research, Education, and Extension projects with a project period of 1 to 3 years.

Additional Eligibility Criteria:

Eligible Applicants:

Applications may only be submitted by colleges and universities as defined in section 1404 of the National Agricultural Research, Extension, and Teaching Policy Act of 1977 (NARETPA, 7 U.S.C. 3103). Failure to meet an eligibility criterion by the application deadline may result in the application being excluded from consideration or, even though an application may be reviewed, will preclude NIFA from making an award. Section 1404 of NARETPA was amended by sections 7101 and 7129 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Public Law (P.L.) 110-246, sections 7101, 7129 (c) (4)) to define Hispanic-serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities (HSACUs) and to include research foundations maintained by eligible colleges or universities.

For the purposes of this program, the terms “college” and “university” mean an educational institution in any state which (1) admits as regular students only persons having a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the recognized equivalent of such a certificate; (2) is legally authorized within such state to provide a program of education beyond secondary education; (3) provides an educational program for which a bachelor’s degree or any other higher degree is awarded; (4) is a public or other nonprofit institution; and (5) is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association. Applications also may be submitted by 1994 Land-Grant Institutions (defined in 7 CFR 3430), HSACUs, and research foundations maintained by eligible colleges or universities. The 2014 Farm Bill required NIFA to establish an ongoing process allowing public colleges and universities that offer 4-year or advanced degrees in the food and agricultural sciences to apply for designation as Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture (NLGCA) institutions. Hispanic Serving Agricultural Colleges and Universities (HSACUs) are given the opportunity to opt out of their status to be considered for designation as a NLGCA; however, this decision will be binding on them until September 30, 2018. Failure to meet an eligibility criterion by the application deadline may result in the application being excluded from consideration or, even though an application may be reviewed, will preclude NIFA from making an award.

Pursuant to section 406 of the Agricultural Research, Extension, and Education Reform Act of 1998 (AREERA) (7 U.S.C. 7626) which authorized the Integrated Research, Education, and Extension Competitive Grant Program, all four year Hispanic Serving Institutes (HSIs) are eligible to apply for Integrated Projects as identified in the FY 2018 ORG RFA. Two year HSIs may be eligible to apply only if the institution has been certified as a HSACU for the fiscal year in which funding is being provided. Approximately by January 2018, a list of the institutions certified and therefore eligible to apply as HSACUs for grants under FY 2018 RFAs, including this RFA, will be made available online. Institutions appearing on this list are granted HSACU certification by the Secretary for the period starting October 1, 2016, and ending September 30, 2018. Certifications are valid for FY 2018 only. Additional questions on HSACU eligibility can be addressed to Award recipients may subcontract to organizations not eligible to apply provided such organizations are necessary for the conduct of the project. Failure to meet an eligibility criterion by the time of application deadline will result in the application being excluded from consideration or, even though an application may be reviewed, will preclude NIFA from making an award.

Centers of Excellence:

Pursuant to Section 7214 of the Agricultural Act of 2014 (P.L 113-79), beginning in Fiscal Year 2015, for applicable competitive research and extension programs, NIFA will recognize and provide priority in the receipt of funding to applications from “centers of excellence” that carry out research, extension, and education activities that relate to the food and agricultural sciences. NIFA held listening sessions in July 2014 and accepted written comments from statekholders to inform NIFA’s implementation of the COE provision.

A COE is composed of one or more of the following entities that provide financial or in-kind support to the COE:
a. Stateagriculturalexperimentstations;
b. Colleges and universities;
c. University research foundations;
d. Other research institutions and organizations;
e. Federal agencies;
f. National laboratories;
g. Private organizations, foundations, or corporations;
h. Individuals; or
i. Any group consisting of two or more of the entities described in (A) through (H).

Pre-Application Information:

The recipient of an award from the ORG program must provide funds, in-kind contributions, or a combination of both, from sources other than funds provided through such grant in an amount that is at least equal to the amount awarded by NIFA unless one of the exemptions described within the RFA is applicable.

Applications must be received via by 5:00 PM Eastern Time on March 29, 2018.

Prior to preparing an application, it is recommended that the Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) first contact an Authorized Representative (AR, also referred to as Authorized Organizational Representative, or AOR) to determine if the organization is prepared to submit electronic applications through

If not (e.g., the institution/organization is new to the electronic grant application process through, then the one-time registration process must be completed PRIOR to submitting an application. It can take as long as two weeks to complete the registration process so it is critical to begin as soon as possible.

View this opportunity on

Contact Information:

Before starting your grant application, please review the funding source's website listed below for updates/changes/addendums/conferences/LOIs.

Programmatic Contact:

Dr. Mathieu Ngouajio, National Program Leader
Plant Systems-Production Division
Institute of Food Production and Sustainability
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA
STOP 2240
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-2240;
Telephone: (202) 401-4895
Fax: (202) 401-6488

Dr. Steve Smith, National Program Leader
Animal Systems Division
Institute of Food Production and Sustainability
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA
STOP 2240
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-2240;
Telephone: (202) 401-6134
Fax: (202) 401-1782

Administrative/Business Contact:

Sondra Watkins, Awards Management Division
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA
STOP 2240
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-2240;
Telephone: 202-401-4249

Rochelle McCrea, Awards Management Division
National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA
STOP 2240
1400 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20250-2240
Telephone: 202-401-2880

CFDA Number:


Funding or Pin Number:


URL for Full Text (RFP):

Geographic Focus:

USA: Alabama;   Alaska;   Arizona;   Arkansas;   California;   Colorado;   Connecticut;   Delaware;   Florida;   Georgia;   Hawaii;   Idaho;   Illinois;   Indiana;   Iowa;   Kansas;   Kentucky;   Louisiana;   Maine;   Maryland;   Massachusetts;   Michigan;   Minnesota;   Mississippi;   Missouri;   Montana;   Nebraska;   Nevada;   New Hampshire;   New Jersey;   New Mexico;   New York City;   New York;   North Carolina;   North Dakota;   Ohio;   Oklahoma;   Oregon;   Pennsylvania;   Rhode Island;   South Carolina;   South Dakota;   Tennessee;   Texas;   Utah;   Vermont;   Virginia;   Washington, DC;   Washington;   West Virginia;   Wisconsin;   Wyoming