$1.2M USDA grant to study Northeast organic farming

December 07, 2001

ITHACA, N.Y. -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Initiative for Future Agriculture and Food Systems has awarded a $1.2 million grant for the creation of a new organic farming network managed by Cornell University's Department of Horticulture.

The group, the Northeast Organic Network (NEON), is composed of university researchers, farmers, extension educators and nonprofit organizations. It will examine ways to enhance production and consumption of locally grown organic food in the Northeastern United States.

"We will coordinate research, extension and outreach efforts among the Northeast organic community, land grant universities, agricultural experiment stations, as well as the public and private sectors, to determine how organic food production will improve small farm viability in this region," says Anusuya Rangarajan, Cornell assistant professor of horticulture and an organizer of NEON. "The growth in organic markets, development of national organic standards, concentration of consumers in the Northeast and recent federal recommendations to ensure small farm viability make this project timely and relevant."

Over the next two years, NEON will develop enterprise budgets and farm-business management information for established organic farms in the Northeast. At the crop-production level, the group will address information gaps in soil fertility and crop- and pest-management practices through applied research. It also will develop support tools to improve organic farming management.
NEON partners include the University of Maine, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, Rutgers University, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey, the New England Small Farm Institute, the Organic Materials Review Institute and New York Certified Organic, as well as several farm operations. In addition to Rangarajan, the Cornell founding members include Anthony M. Shelton, professor of entomology; Laurie E. Drinkwater, associate professor of horticulture; Charles Mohler, senior research associate in crop and soil sciences; Antonio Ditommaso, assistant professor of crop and soil sciences; Wen-Fei Uva, senior extension associate in applied economics and management; and Brian Caldwell of Cornell Cooperative Extension (Tioga County). Related World Wide Web sites: The following site provides additional information on this news release. o The Northeast Organic Network: http://www. neon.cornell.edu/

Cornell University

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