New Report Assess USDA Organic Research Grant Funding Programs
The Organic Farming Research Foundation has released Taking Stock: Analyzing and Reporting Organic Research Investments, 2002 -2014, an assessment of the USDA Organic Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) and the Organic Transitions (ORG) research grant programs. The report sought to understand the extent to which the OREI and ORG programs have addressed the needs of producers, whether or not producers and stakeholders were engaged as partners in the funded projects, if funded projects led to actionable outcomes, and how effective the associated outreach, education and extension components of the projects were. One hundred eighty-nine OREI and ORG projects funded from 2002 - 2014 were assessed based on information recorded in USDA’s Current Research Information System (CRIS). An additional 47 projects were explored in depth, utilizing outreach materials such as project websites and by conducting interviews with lead researchers and farmer participants. The assessment found generally that a large portion of funded projects “delivered valuable information and tools to organic producers, while others laid groundwork for future outcomes, including research data, new methods, and advanced plant breeding lines.” Recommendations include increasing program funding capacity to fund projects in priority areas now underfunded or emerging, incorporating a balance of projects with different scopes (small, targeted and large, multi-institutional), and improving reporting and dissemination of project results and products.