USDA funds specialty crop and organic agriculture research and extension programsUSDA announced more than $66.5 million in funding for research and extension programs to address needs of the nation’s specialty crop industry and solve critical organic agriculture production issues.

The programs are administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and made available through the 2014 Farm Bill.

"Investments in projects to help organic producers and specialty crop growers are an important way USDA helps American farmers establish new business opportunities throughout the country," said Vilsack. "The projects funded by these programs will build on USDA support for local and regional markets. And strengthening local markets grows the rural economy while improving access to healthy food for millions of children and supplying farmers markets, restaurants and other businesses with fresh, high-quality fruits and vegetables."

The Specialty Crop Research Initiative (SCRI) will aid researching plant genetics to improving crop characteristics; identifying and addressing threats from pests and diseases; improving production and profitability; developing new production innovations and technologies; and developing methods to respond to food safety hazards.

SCRI pre-applications are due March 30, 2015, and full applications are due July 2, 2015.

The Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative will 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.

A Notification of Intent to Submit an Application is due on April 1, 2015. Full applications are due April 30, 2015.

More information can be found here.