|Grants announced this past week from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Organic Agriculture and Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) will make it possible for The Organic Center to help advance research on two vital issues affecting the organic industry.
The first, a nearly $2-million grant to the University of Wisconsin at Madison to run now through August 31, 2023, will focus on helping develop an organic alternative to conventional celery powder as a meat curing agent. The second, a one-year grant for $47,299 to the University of Florida in Gainesville to run through August 31, 2020, will be used to assess current practices and research priorities for organic citrus growers combating the devastating citrus greening disease.
“We are pleased that this funding has been approved to further much needed research, first to develop an organic alternative to sodium and potassium nitrate and nitrite to produce certified organic cured meat, and secondly, to work towards providing tools to organic citrus growers to successfully combat citrus greening,” says Dr. Jessica Shade, Director of Science Programs for The Organic Center.
For the first project, The Organic Center will play a key role in outreach and host a website related to the research. At the same time, the University of Wisconsin will lead a multiregional research team with expertise in organic horticultural and agronomic production, economics and meat processing to help develop a successful organic vegetable-based powder for curing processed organic meat. Meanwhile, for the citrus greening project, The Center will survey organic citrus growers to help quantify current practices and research priorities, and organize a stakeholder workshop for organic growers and researchers to determine additional needs, including outreach and expanded education. University of Florida researchers will be in charge of analyzing survey data, and The Center will produce a white paper on the topic. The Organic Center website will serve as a major way to disseminate the findings.
OREI helps support research projects that specifically address the most critical challenges facing organic growers. The 2018 Farm Bill signed into law last December approved increasing funding for OREI to $50 million per year by 2023, thus establishing permanent baseline funding for the program.