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USDA awards nearly US$10mln in organic market development grants

NEW YORK, January 18, 2024 - The United States Department of Agriculture [USDA] through its  Agricultural Marketing Service [AMS] days ago announced that US$ 9.75 million has been awarded to 10 grant projects through the Organic Market Development Grant [OMDG].

The funded projects will support the development and expansion of new and existing organic markets to increase the consumption of domestic organic agricultural products, according to a news release.

The Organic Trade Association [OTA] said in a statement that the USDA programme will expand organic opportunities for farmers, national and regional food systems, and consumers. “Today's awards will help innovative and diverse projects across the country to grow organic markets and increase consumer awareness of organic,” the OTA said in a statement.

The OTA added: “We extend special recognition to two of our members for their awards: California Certified Organic Farmers [CCOF] and their work to improve and expand markets for small and underserved organic farmers by linking them directly with organic buyers, and the Oregon Organic Coalition and their work with partners to develop the specialty/craft food and farm-to-school markets for organic producers in Oregon and Washington.”

The OTA said the Organic Market Development Grant programme is a key element of USDA’s historic Organic Transition Initiative, the department’s US$ 300mln programme announced in 2022 to promote organic agriculture through technical transition assistance, direct farmer assistance, and support for organic market development.

“This program will strengthen the organic supply chain and expand organic processing capacity to create new paths to market for climate-smart organic farmers and improve consumer access to organic foods and products,” the OTA said in a statement, adding that it will continue to advocate for the expansion of the program.

The USDA said the projects will provide information and services to more than 20,000 producers and 20,000 buyers to increase market opportunities for organic farmers, the release said.

“USDA is excited to announce the first round of funding awarded through the Organic Market Development Grant program,” USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Jenny Lester Moffitt said in the release.  “The recipients of this funding will be spearheading unprecedented efforts to expand and open new revenue streams for the nation’s organic industry, building more value-added agricultural opportunities for farmers across rural America.”

In May 2023, USDA announced approximately US$ 75mln available through OMDG to increase the availability and demand for domestically produced organic agricultural products and to address the critical need for additional market paths. This first round of OMDG awards for the Market Development and Promotion project type is funded by the Commodity Credit Corporation [CCC].

USDA is awarding this first set of awards in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Maine, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, and Washington. USDA will announce additional awards later.

The USDA gave priority consideration to projects addressing specific pinpointed market needs for organic grains and livestock feed, organic dairy, organic fibers, organic legumes and other rotational crops, and organic ingredients currently unavailable in organic form.

This grant programme is part of the USDA Organic Transition Initiative, launched in fall 2022, which offers a suite of programs and resources to help existing organic farmers and those transitioning to organic production and processing.

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