The US Department of Agriculture will award more than US$4.5m in research grants to address organic production issues and increase the organic industry’s global competitiveness, agriculture secretary Mike Johanns has announced.

“To succeed in organic agriculture, producers must be creative and willing to take certain risks,” Johanns said. “This research will help organic producers to manage their risks by providing information that will help to increase production while decreasing costs.”

Grants will focus on improving the competitiveness of organic producers, increasing understanding about making the jump to organic production and assisting the growth of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards.

Eight grants will be administered to 13 states through the Integrated Organic Program, which is overseen by the USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES).